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Five Pillars of Superior Collaboration

Teamwork is an essential part of success. As a leader, how can you make the most of group dynamics? The majority of managers barely tap 30% of a team's full potential during collaborative events. For the Elite, this is not acceptable.

Creating an environment where skills, contributions, and results are maximized to the highest extent is key. Yet, developing these superior group dynamics are more of a science than an art. Unsurprisingly, Apple and Pixar founder Steve Jobs was a master of communication and creating cultures that extracted the best of people and teams.

An MIT Research team studied Jobs as he strategically harnessed the power of high interaction in this new high tech enterprise. As a result, the five main elements of higher-level group dynamics were laid out in detail as a framework for success. Without further adieu, here is the science of enhanced collaboration:

1.  Listen AND Talk

Everyone on the team both talks and listens. No one dominates the conversation. In poor group dynamics, when one individual is talking the rest are not actually listening: they are simply waiting their turn to speak.

Additionally, people will sometimes hear others speaking, but will not absorb the content being discussed. By the time the meeting is over, people will have forgotten the majority of what was expressed and even emphasized.

Find a way to make all collaborative events as interactive as possible. Each person shouldn't speak for too long in a single turn, but each person should be given multiple opportunities to speak. In such an environment, people are forced to pay attention, contribute, and absorb the content.

2.  Face-to-Face

Group dynamics are best when there is an environment where interactions are energetic with a lot of face-to-face communication. When people speak, think, and listen while just bumping into someone – or in any natural, friendly encounter – ideas are born.

Removing the pressure, stress, time constraints, professionalism, and the “trying too hard” aspects of planned meetings will create ideal group dynamics.

For example, Jobs personally supervised the design of the company's office building in 2000, and originally, employees thought Jobs had ended up wasting a huge amount of space by insisting that a large atrium anchor the interior central area of the building.

And he insisted that atrium area contain the meeting rooms, the cafeteria and – most critically – the bathrooms. In other words, at some point in the workday, everyone at Pixar would have to pass through the atrium.

Jobs realized that when people run into each other, when they make eye contact, things happen. So he made it impossible for you not to run into the rest of the company.”

3.  Direct Connection

People connect with one another directly – not just with or through the team leader. Managers often overlook the fact that side conversations are carried on within the team, which often produces the greatest results. Poor leaders will micromanage and attempt to be the middleman of all dialogue within the team.

Not only does this destroy the chemistry between the group, it is simply inefficient. Moreover, in an age where all of us are communicating more and more through electronic devices instead of actual conversation, teamwork suffers. As Jobs said:

There's a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That's crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they're doing, you say 'wow,' and soon you're cooking up all sorts of ideas.”

4.  Draw From The Outside

People should be encouraged to go outside the group and bring relevant outside information back in. Diversity is the most important aspect of group dynamics and collaboration. In such a culture, individuals have different skills, interests, and backgrounds.

Therefore, it is only natural that when outside the group, these individuals will be exposed to different experiences, learn different things, and – in short – bring to the table uniqueness and value. By encouraging outside interaction, you are tapping into the full potential of diversity.

5.  Methods Over Talent

Individual contributions and talents are less important than successful communication patterns. When attempting to produce results through collaboration, what good is someone's skill if cannot be accessed?

So, how do you tap into someone's value? The answer is through excellent communication habits. In a teamwork structure, it is better to have superior communication abilities above all other things. That is how you can extract the best out of everyone.

Complex, intricate theories become simple ideas when voiced through a superior communicator. By encouraging higher-level communication skills, results will be of higher quality and will arrive faster. Every member of the team will be on the same page and their ideas will be put forth in the most optimal fashion.

Ryan Babikian | Elite. 

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