Be Your Own Chief Collaboration Officer

Posted May 24, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

When skyscrapers rose and business began booming bigger and bigger in the 20th century, the coveted “C-suite” was quite small. A company would likely have a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and in some cases a Chief Operating Officer (COO). As companies and the world of business have grown, however, most companies boast a larger C-suite than ever before. You’ll hear CMO, CTO, CSO, CIO, and many more (in case you’re wondering, those acronyms represent marketing, technology, science or strategy, and information respectively).

Recently, though, some Harvard Business Review bloggers contend that the C-suite needs another member – the CCO, Chief Collaboration Officer. In the article, “Who Should be Your Chief Collaboration Officer,” Morten T. Hanson and Scott Tapp say a CCO would help a company “work effectively across sales offices, business units, sales, product development, and marketing.” But as good as this idea might be for big companies, the truth is, they’re not doing it. A recent Fast Company article called “Why Your Company Needs a Chief Collaboration Officer” cited that they found only one CCO in the companies they searched.

So I’ll go a little further along than these two articles and throw out the idea of a company wide CCO – what you need to do for your career and for the company you work in is this: be your own Chief Collaboration Officer. And here’s how:

  • Collaboration is woven deeply into corporate culture no matter the company you work for. But you can foster collaboration in your team or department by encouraging open dialogue, ease of communication from your department to others, and allowing team members to express new ideas and run with them.
  • Don’t just ask for collaborators, be one! It’s easy to want collaboration from others when you need it for one of your projects, but we can also be quick to say “I don’t have time” when someone asks us to be a collaborator. It’s a two-way street, ladies, and you have to be willing to help out another person in order to get them to help you in the future.
  • Be willing to be the connector and sometimes the mediator. Part of collaboration is being able to effectively deal with difficult situations, personalities, and inter-office conflict. To be the best collaborator you can be, be willing to be the person who brings together parties in your office who need to meet, need to hash out a situation, or might need a go-between.

Collaboration might not be a big C in the C-suite just yet, but your own personal attention to the importance of effective collaboration can and will change the shape of your workplace and the way it runs.


About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."