The True Impact of Collaboration

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Collaboration is very much like cooperation: people working together to accomplish something. There is a distinct element of differentiation, however—leadership. The type of leadership that emerges within collaboration is not in the traditional sense, but one of symbiosis. The leadership is ‘social’—each distinct, highly skilled principle comes together to work with the others for the best possible result.

This was never clearer to me than when my mother was recently hit with a sudden and serious illness that nearly took her life. It was unexpected and frightening. At 83, she had been doing Zumba with 50 year olds just the week before, and leaving me in the dust when we walked together.

When my mother fell ill, our team at Impact Collaborative was in the final stages of a multi-month strategy and communications project for a global non-profit, an initiative that has the potential to save many lives. Simultaneously, we were pitching major CSR strategy work for a tech company, as well as an innovation project for a city partner to help underserved populations secure housing. I was heavily involved in all of these concurrent processes.

For a short time, I tried to keep one foot in my mom’s hospital room and one in work, but quickly realized it was not sustainable. More importantly, I learned that it wasn’t necessary. My colleagues had it covered—each a leader in his and her own right. Seamlessly, they took over, working collaboratively to win both the tech and civic projects, and delivering an outstanding final product to our non-profit client. So outstanding, in fact, that we’re currently launching into a second phase of work for the client.

During the moments of utter powerlessness that I experienced in my mom’s hospital room, I thought much about my colleagues (their texts and calls pouring in daily) and realized that my original vision for the Collaborative had not only come to fruition, it delivered distinct experiences to our clients, not readily found in traditional consulting firms. What Impact Collaborative brings to each project is unlike what’s currently in the social impact/innovation space.

Leaders collaborating. Imagine that.

P.S. I’m delighted to share that my mom is on her way to a full recovery. I expect she’ll be back at Zumba soon!