Keys to Collaboration: #3 Listening

Collaboration is a hot topic in business at the moment, but what does true collaboration for growth actually look like, and how do we develop collaborative relationships?
In a mini-series of blogposts, we’re exploring the different keys to collaboration, and what each of them means for your success. 

Collaboration takes good communication, and we well know that communication works two ways – making yourself heard, and being heard. Often our focus is on the first, but listening is a huge key to working in partnership successfully, and to getting the best result.

Listen to your people

For example, let’s look once again at the conductor. He is the only member of the orchestra with the whole score, the overview of the piece in its entirety, and is responsible for making sure every player comes in at one time. You’d imagine that this is a largely visual activity – he read the music and moves his arms, and the orchestra see his movements and interpret them accordingly. But actually the key to the success of a conductor is whether he or she listens to the orchestra.

Hear the spirit of what they’re saying

Every group of players has its own culture, tradition, and history that informs its style. The conductor too has their own personality, preferences, and habits. To work well together both need to listen to the other, to understand, not just the instructions, but the spirit behind them, in order to get the best out of the relationship. Not only that, but in listening to the different sections of the orchestra, the conductor is also able to ensure cohesion and cooperation within the players themselves.

Collaborate to grow your business

Translated into a business context, Forbes highlights an example of good listening practice in Cristina Mariani-May, CEO of a US winery. Her listening skills have allowed her business to grow into new markets, precisely because she’s been able to learn her audience and their culture. Without listening she may have had a lovely small family business. By maximising her listening, she’s been able to collaborate and work with businesses all over the world.