December 29, 2020

Effective collaboration for future success

Emotional intelligence, active listening, and creative problem-solving are essential skills for effective collaboration


As individuals, we cannot do things alone if we want to achieve greater success. In the same manner, we cannot simply rely on internal processes to drive business success. Whether you’re just starting your business or career or are a seasoned business leader, we know one thing is for sure — people are at the core of every success.


In a previous article, I noted that one of the lessons we can take away from 2020 to start stronger in 2021 was the power of collective effort toward effective collaboration. But within the realm of collaboration itself, there are many skills we can develop to ensure we work together effectively to achieve the results we intended.


We have seen how effective collaboration by people with the right skills can be during the troubled times we have experienced the past year. We know people are important in driving success. However, we also know that more people means more chances of disagreements and differences, which can lead to even more challenges.


To ensure that we can collaborate effectively and produce the results we want together, we need to develop and learn.


Here are some skills to drive better collaboration to find greater success in 2021 and the future.


Mindset and emotional intelligence


Sustained success is built on a foundation of strong mindsets and high emotional intelligence. As in any structure, a strong foundation is what keeps something standing strong through any weather.


We cannot know what challenges we will face, especially when they involve differences between other people and how they work. But ensuring a strong mindset and high emotional intelligence means there will be a better chance of handling any conflicts that come with collaboration.


Active listening


Listening comes to us quite naturally; however, the listening we are used to is more passive in nature — listening to respond. To truly drive more effective collaboration, we need to engage in active listening toward our colleagues and our customers.


Active listening also supports maintaining a positive mindset. Often, we grow weary of conflicts. But with active listening, we can learn to understand different points of view that we may have otherwise overlooked. While easy to say, active listening can be tough and requires hyper-awareness of our thoughts and reactions, and those of others.




During the crisis, we’ve learned that communication is of even greater importance than it was in the past. With remote work becoming the norm for many, communication has also become an even greater challenge because we may miss some of the nuances of in-person contact.


Developing communication skills for collaboration, especially across different regions, helps us to get important points across effectively. Additionally, better communication across collaborating teams can help reduce misunderstandings and frustrations that can slow down work processes.


Creative problem-solving


When we work collaboratively, we also learn to solve problems collaboratively. Simply knowing how to solve problems is no longer enough: we need to find new and innovative approaches.


In the design thinking process, creative problem-solving is what drives innovation. The side effect of effective collaboration is being able to make efforts that help drive creative problem-solving. Whether it’s within the organization or answering the needs of customers, creative problem solving helps drive greater collaboration.




Whether dealing with others in the organization or with external parties, we are always engaging in some form of negotiation. We cannot place unrealistic expectations when collaborating with others. We are still involved in a professional working relationship in which both sides want to win.


Imagine we are asking a colleague for some help in an area in which they are an expert. Simply expecting that assistance isn’t going to get us anywhere. Here, we engage in a negotiation with our colleague, where we find some mid-point and agreement.


The skills mentioned above are only the basics of better collaboration; you may have a more elaborate list depending on your organization and industry. Collaboration is just one approach we’ve learned from 2020 that we can promote in the future to succeed.


While 2021 is still filled with uncertainty, we know one thing is for sure — we are more experienced and smarter about taking on new challenges that come our way. That’s if we choose to continue developing ourselves to face them.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at