Collaboration – The Essential Building Block to Realizing An Organization’s Full Potential


I love everything about what collaboration represents. I like seeing it in action when people work together. As the theme for our Junior League year came together, I wanted to incorporate the idea of collaboration. It made sense to highlight it as part of “Cultivate. Collaborate. Change.”

As a market researcher and pollster, one of my strengths is being able to elicit ideas and comments from others. As a business owner and leader, I have learned that this skill empowers others and fosters an environment for collaboration. Recently, I have been reading several works from John C. Maxwell, and one of his snippets in The Maxwell Daily Reader spoke to communication as a key tool for successful collaboration. Yet, neither the words “communication” nor “collaboration” were used in his section “Be Open To Learning From Others.” Being open to collaboration as a working style and communicating that openness to others helps build a stronger team. According to Maxwell:

“If you really desire others to see you as an approachable person, go a step beyond just willingness to admit your weaknesses. Be willing to learn from them. One of the things I teach in Winning with People is the Learning Principle, which states, ‘Each person we meet has the potential to teach us something.’ I really believe that. If you embrace that idea, I believe you will discover two things. First, you will learn a lot, because every time you meet someone, it is a learning opportunity. Second, people will warm up to you. Complete strangers often treat me like an old friend, simply because I am open to them.”

As a leader, I have much to learn from everyone around me. I know that while I have my strengths, I am simply not the best at everything or even good at a lot of things. My stepmom taught me at a very young age to try and make every day a “red letter day”…meaning that I should learn something new that day. I have found that when I’m a part of a team that is collaborating well, I always learn from those around me.

I recently asked a few Junior League of Northern Virginia members what they thought collaboration felt like when done well, and here are some of their answers:

“Like a piece of Jerome Robbins’ choreography.”-Jeri Kirschner

“When everyone feels like the end product is something they can feel both responsible for and proud of and the collective result is better than any individual’s single idea.”-Jo Heckert

“Teams or situations where I’ve felt truly collaborative are ones where everyone is able to bring their strengths to the table. Where one person isn’t as strong, another team member is. We learn from each other and walk away from the experience better as a team and as an individual.”-Jhaymee Heinlein

“Feels great! Feels like ideas become reality and people are energized to work toward a common outcome. It’s supportive, educational, and inspiring. It’s the unstoppable movement of accomplishments. And then you want more.”-Aimee Priscaro

Good collaboration is invigorating. When individuals come together as a team bringing something special to the group and knowing they will learn from the group, a powerful moment occurs. In the end the group accomplishes its objective, and each member of the team benefits from having been a part of the process.

John Maxwell nicely brings it home, “Be open to what others can teach you today.”

Candice Bennett
President 2013-2014
Junior League of Northern Virginia

Republished from JLNV President’s Blog.

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