Doing the Tango at Work!

Abundance Collaboration Organizational culture


Key Point: You need to be valued as a helper at work and have the mindset and skills to be an effective one! This spirit of giving and generosity is core to Abundance in the Character Triangle. Why is this so important?

In today’s knowledge based work environments, networking and collaboration for high performance is a necessity. There is an explosion of information, and insight needs to gingerly flow in every direction, allowing for the connection between opportunity/possibility and solution/innovation to rapidly snap together. This usually happens through a dense network of mutual assistance. Top down command and control environments are just too cumbersome. People who wait for the top down “memo” to get collaborative are too pedestrian. Lone geniuses are no longer likely to be smart or skilled enough to create exclusively. In turbulent knowledge systems, innovation emerges most effectively from different people swiftly bringing unique value to each other. This requires a helping or collaborative skill set. Helpers are value generators and while they have clear accountabilities for their own results, they also have the capacity to ask and give of themselves in a timely way.

“Make others successful.” That is a quote from something called “The Little Red Book of IDEO.” You likely know about IDEO, the world famous company that focuses on creative development. This Red Book captures its core beliefs and values. IDEO is putting significant focus and research on collaboration as a foundation to the principle of helping others be successful. People in IDEO were asked to rank five teammates who helped them the most and then rated each on three attributes. They also applied the same rating to a randomly chosen non-helper. The three attributes were: Competence, Trust and Accessibility. Surprisingly, trust and accessibility were found to be greater differentiators than competence. The findings also reinforced that collaboration must be culturally reinforced. It flourishes through intentional acts of helpfulness and the recognition that goes along with it.

Character Moves:

  1. Identify the top five helpers you work with. Why? Rate them on Competence, Trust and Accessibility. Who comes out on top? Why? How would people at work rate you as a helper? Would you be in their top five?
  2. Understand the importance of Trust, Accessibility and Competence as it relates to you having a helpful, collaborative skill set. And embrace the value of abundance. Recognize that generosity of spirit not only creates a sense of simple gratitude but that it’s also good business for you and the organization.
  3. Learn when to ask for and give help. Often we don’t know we need it until we see it in front of us. And vice versa. When collaboration happens effectively, the rhythm of the organization takes on a dance-like quality; hence the Tango analogy as referred to in the recent Harvard Business Review article, IDEO’s Culture of Helping, by Teresa Amabile.

The helpful Tango in The Triangle,