I attended a conference 2013 where a speaker said that one reason women are not good at collaboration is because of the word ‘labor’ in the word ‘colLABORation’: that ‘labor’ was associated with pain and exhaustion as women associated it with the birth process and being in labour. I let you ponder and draw your conclusion.
I’ve never been pregnant and hence do not know what being in labour feels like (yes, I’m using British English and yes there is a ‘u’ in labour and none in ‘collaboration’…..and hence the above theory????).
So, what’s my point?
I’m putting it out there: Guilty as charged! I am a woman who seldom collaborated with other women.
I’m putting it out there: Guilty as charged! I am a woman who seldom collaborated with other women. Not consciously, no intentionally. It just didn’t happen. It’s not that there were no opportunities, I probably never saw them as I’d never placed collaboration as a high priority for my success at work.
I had a belief. Hard work, only MY hard work will pay off.
Did I collaborate with men? Yes I did. Because, you see, men ran organisations, they were in-charge. Weren’t they the decision-makers, the ones who called the shots? Although I’ve left my corporate job for almost 14 years, the belief had stayed – it is men who ran corporates.
But the truth is, I am gender-blind when it comes to collaborating for my business and my projects. I go where I get the best deal and with the person who best meets my needs.
I have been criticised (severely) for not partnering up more with women. But the truth is, I am gender-blind when it comes to collaborating for my business and my projects. I go where I get the best deal and with the person who best meets my needs. For example, my website designer is a male and I’ve been working with him for the past 6 years. I did try working with a woman designer many years before and we just didn’t click, she didn’t understand my needs and couldn’t meet my turnaround time.
So as I venture further into my business, I’ve come to this realisation that no matter how hard I work, I cannot do it alone. Collaboration is IN, girlfriends! So to all the women out there who are starting out on your new venture, here are 2 tips I’d like to share with you to start locking your arms with someone else:
1. Quit the playground politics: You know what is this. When we were little girls and little Mary Jane didn’t share her toys with us, little Diana had a nice dress and was always showing off and so we stopped being friends them. Or perhaps, little Sally said something like “Your dress is ugly” and we stopped playing with her. We stopped inviting little Mary Jane, Sally and Diana to the parties and then we turned the other way when they approached us. And anyone wanting to be friends with us, could not be friends with them. So it didn’t work out for one project. Or maybe this was just a short-term project and you’re having a rethink whether to continue or extend the project. Or perhaps the outcomes were’t delivered. Whatever the reason, don’t make the parting terminal. Be honest. “It didn’t work out this once” or “this is all we can do together for now.” Leave that door open as you never know how, when and where your paths will cross again.
2. Go with the best: Stop being controlled by what some segment of the society dictates. A woman entrepreneur is not obliged to only partner with other women. So if you’re struggling to find someone to collaborate with, here are some quick tips you might find useful:
– What is the outcome you want from this collaboration?
– What is your success criteria?
– What key qualities do you want in the person?
– What expectations must this person be able to fulfil?
So this article is dedicated to Juliana Iskandar with whom I’ve had an excellent 5 months of debating, brainstorming and developing ideas. We will miss our Monday Morning Madness. But we’ll wait for the next project. Our doors are never bolted. In the meantime, I take her parting advise to heart: Save water, Drink wine.
Here’s to Collaboration and remember, spell it the English way: laboUr.