5 Best Practices to Build Collaborative Intelligence in Your Organization

Training in collaborative intelligence enhances team-oriented cultures, establishes resilient and high-performing teams, and promotes inclusive workspaces.

Work is in a weird place as it confronts several destabilizing events in quick succession. From the broad shift to remote and hybrid work arrangements to Quiet (and actual) Quitting, employers and employees aren’t exactly seeing eye to eye.

Simply put, many people are no longer willing to punch a clock. They want to experience purpose at work, and they want to connect and collaborate with their peers.

In response, some companies, like Deloitte, are launching new leadership positions to account for this change, appointing a Chief Purpose and People Officer to help realign organizational priorities.

However, c-suite leaders alone can’t create a sense of purpose or improve team communication and collaboration.

Successful companies will equip all leaders and employees with collaborative intelligence, the ability to work with others to achieve meaningful goals and to make the workplace as productive, impactful, and purposeful as possible.

The good news is this is entirely possible. We can strengthen our collaborative intelligence muscles like training our bodies through regular exercise.

Here are five steps your organization can take to make progress on building collaborative intelligence for 2024 and beyond.

#1: Conduct a Collaborative Health Self-assessment

Start by evaluating the current state of collaboration within your team or organization. Ask, “Where are we now?” and honestly consider you and your team’s collaborative competencies.

As you do this, it helps to take a holistic view of success and consider team results, the effectiveness of team processes, and the health of relationships. Helpful self-assessment questions include:

  • How effective are our teams at getting the results they seek?
  • How efficient and adaptable are the processes by which we work together?
  • How resilient are the relationships?
  • Does each member of the team feel good about their contributions and interactions?

These questions provide key insights and baseline data that inform the strategic cultivation of collaborative intelligence within yourself and your teams.

#2: Reflect on Essential Collaborative Values

There are essential qualities in effective collaboration, including purposefulness, adaptability, consideration, and trustworthiness. In practice, these manifest in the following ways:

  • Purposeful: Collaborators understand the reason for the collaboration and find meaning in contributing to the effort.
  • Adaptive: Collaborators respond to changing conditions or requirements by rebalancing time and task priorities.
  • Considerate: Collaborators are attentive to each other’s needs and concerns.
  • Trustworthy: Collaborators are open, honest, reliable, and transparent in their communications.

It is worthwhile to look honestly at the degree to which these qualities characterize your team’s collaborative experience. Some are undoubtedly more apparent than others, so identify the values that matter most to you and differentiate those that are strong from those that can be improved.

Understanding this dynamic allows leaders to be more strategic and precise when developing collaborative competencies.

#3: Develop Collaborative Competencies

Once you’ve identified areas of growth, focus on the skills essential for effective collaboration. Ten core competencies underpin collaborative intelligence. Among these are:

  • Listening in a way that prioritizes understanding the other person and being able to communicate in a way that others understand you.
  • Learning to guide conversations in a way that negotiates sound agreements so that people can trust each other and work well as a team.
  • Leveraging differences by engaging people with diverse capabilities and life experiences to generate creative solutions, expand what’s possible, and support an authentic experience of belonging on the team.

These and other collaborative skills can be learned, refined, and mastered over time. When leaders are well-equipped with these competencies, they’re optimally positioned to infuse effective collaboration throughout the organization at every level.

#4: Promote Mindful Self-Awareness

Before leaders can develop collaborative intelligence within their teams, they must promote mindful self-awareness. This core competency sets the stage for the development of all other competencies.

In other words, we need first to be willing to learn about our own behaviors and how they relate to the actions, attitudes, and aptitudes of others.

This awareness is the foundation of harnessing long-term collaborative intelligence at work.

Companies can help facilitate this priority by encouraging team members to practice self-awareness techniques that allow them to maintain the calm, clear-thinking approach crucial for collaboration, especially in challenging situations.

#5: Iterate and Refine

As you implement these steps, regularly revisit and revise them based on feedback and observed outcomes. Collaboration is an evolving competency that benefits from continuous attention and improvement.

Put differently, collaborative intelligence is a journey, not a destination, so continue to iterate and refine your practices, always shifting, adjusting, and adapting to on-the-ground realities.

Building Our Collaborative Intelligence

Training in collaborative intelligence enhances team-oriented cultures, establishes resilient and high-performing teams, and promotes inclusive workspaces. These factors collectively lead to more innovative, productive, and connected teams. This underscores the idea that organizations thrive when collaboration is at the forefront.

In other words, the more people work together with a shared purpose and thoughtful approach, the more successful and sustainable their endeavors will be.

However, collaboration by nature requires participation, leaders can’t force it into existence. It takes time and training to develop, making it a priority worth pursuing and investing in right now.

Rachael Grail
Rachael Grail is a senior consultant at Interaction Associates, a leading provider of training and consulting services for building a collaborative leadership culture. Learn more by visiting https://www.interactionassociates.com.