You’re likely working with other people to produce or create something this week.
God has put us in this together—different skills and experiences coming together to accomplish way more than we could accomplish on our own.
As Christians, we understand this at a foundational level. We know the call to use our different gifts to serve as “good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). Or how, in the body of Christ, “the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you'” (1 Corinthians 12:21).
We believe deeply in coming together for a common mission, and we want the benefits that come from strong collaboration, whether in our church or our workplace.
But in practice we can miss out. More than that, we can experience tension or even conflict with our teammates when we approach “teamwork” or “collaboration” in different ways without realizing it.
As I’ve led and worked in different teams over the years, I’ve noticed two basic levels of collaboration and the challenges that come when we apply collaboration differently.
Here’s what I mean:
- “Everyone needs to play their part for us to do this well.”
- “I’m responsible for making this decision.”
- “You do this, I’ll do that, and together we can make a big difference.”
- “You’ve only been here a few weeks, but I really want your perspective.”
- “Can I suggest another way to think about it before we make that policy shift?”
- “I read about this new software. Wanted to make sure you knew about it…”
- “That’s my idea. How can we make this stronger?”
We can limit our productivity as a team if we operate solely in Level 1. And we can actually be counter-productive when some of the team are operating in the former and others are aiming for the latter.
Level 1 collaboration has it’s place, but don’t settle for that. Level 2 collaboration is where the really good stuff happens.