Teamwork on the Fly: Learn to Collaborate with Just about Anyone

In today’s world, companies are depending on remote workers, diverse markets, and global interactions to keep business going.

Many of us find ourselves frequently teaming with different people, coordinating and collaborating across geographic, disciplinary, linguistic, sectoral, and societal boundaries.

Consider that a typical hospitalized patient is seen by some 60 different providers over the course of a stay. These professionals may come from different specialties, different backgrounds, and different areas of expertise. They may not even know one another, but they work as a team to provide appropriate, timely patient care.

Members of such fluid teams may not have fixed roles or even fixed deliverables. They often come together to deal with urgent, complex, unpredictable issues.

They may be individuals from different professions, different organizations, even different nations, who find themselves working together in the face of a natural disaster, a health emergency, a complicated rescue, a refugee crisis, or some other situation. Despite language barriers, cultural differences, professional egos, and myriad physical challenges, these pseudo-teams often produce remarkable results.

So, what does successful teaming require? What’s the secret sauce? Researchers point to “true grit” characteristics such as dedication, perseverance, and goal orientation.

Of course, leadership is important, too, but here there is a caveat. Experts note that teaming leaders must exhibit extraordinary situational humility and a willingness to defer to others. They must develop a mindset of inclusivity rather than competition. Solutions and ideas can come from anywhere, so leaders must be curious, humble, willing to listen, willing to take risks, and open to trying different approaches.

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