Is solo success in the workplace a myth?

by Janine Garner01 Sep 2016
There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”. 
In this fast-paced world where resources are limited, competition is rife and clients, suppliers and staff are becoming more demanding, the challenge for all of us is to remain relevant.
We are being challenged every day to invent and innovate, to develop and explore. 
We cannot do this alone.  Togetherness can and does, create the momentum of change.
Great potential can be created when you move from being solely focused on ‘Me’ — my skills, my job, my business, my leadership challenges — to working freely in a world of ‘We’.
This is where there is active collaboration and sharing of knowledge, insight and intellect.
Where you openly talk about failures, and equally share knowledge; where honesty, integrity and a belief in opportunity can create the freedom to invent, to innovate, to disrupt the status quo and, ultimately, to future-proof yourself.
Working together is putting in to practice Aristotle’s philosophy that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”.
When in balance, working together serves a greater purpose.  Ultimately it will drive you, your business and your potential to heights that you never imagined possible  - and probably would not achieve if you continued alone.
In the 2014 report “A Collaborative Economy – Unlocking the power of the workplace crowd” Deloittes estimated that the collaborative economy is worth $46 billion per year and there was the potential to add a further $9.3 billion per year if companies were to adopt more collaborative practices.  
Deloittes reported that companies that collaborate are “five times more likely to experience a considerable increase in employment, twice as likely to be profitable and twice as likely to outgrow competitors”.
Yet many of us continue to try and go it alone.

Imagine a world where:
  • We are inspired and encouraged to openly share thoughts, opinions and knowledge
  • Working environments respect the needs of the ‘whole’ employee
  • Individuals can thrive on the freedom to create, to explore, to be curious about new possibilities
  • Workers can add value and contribute to the big-picture goals
  • Leaders are authentic and honest
  • We are constantly learning and evolving as a result of embracing diversity of position, thought, gender and age
  • We embrace uniqueness
  • We respect each others’ visions and dreams
  • We create actions that drive continued success for each other
  • We create space for people to share their talents
  • We have the courage to lead, to share and equally to ask for help
  • We appreciate the human in people as much as the financial return and the big-picture vision
  • There is no political game-playing, no saying one thing and doing another, no abuse of power that protects position, self, ego
  • Collaboration is valued strategically and aligned positively to continued growth, evolution, creative thinking and future-proofing for all.
The answer is simple.
Given the increasing complexity of the world we are all working within, the inherent diversity that does exist needs more than one of us to find the solution.  In fact, the new competitive advantage is the difference of opinion, the collective intelligence this creates and the ideation that results.
Those businesses and people that collaborate diversely, across industries, across sectors and across areas of specialisation are the ones that will create future-proof strategies. They are evolving their thinking, developing new solutions, new products and services, new ways to communicate, new technologies.
To collaborate is to lead, and lead with inspiration, gusto, innovation and heart. Perhaps that’s the biggest point.  It’s time to step through that door of ‘Me’ and enter the world of ‘We’.
Janine Garner is the CEO of LBDGroup and author of From Me To We – Why commercial collaboration will future-proof business, leaders and personal success (Wiley).