Posted in Leadership

It's Not Cheating! It's Collaboration

Collaboration isn’t cheating. I blame my school system for misleading me for so long.

In one of the first TED conference talks, Englishmen Sir Ken Robinson spoke on the future of education. He stated that what schools prohibit and call “cheating” is most often called “collaboration” in the workplace.

Embarrassingly, from grades 6-10, I cheated in school. I had some elaborate cheating techniques, which I’ll provide to readers for a price. But it didn’t get me very far.

The $2 for lunch money I paid my smart friends to do my math homework worked really well until test time. I got an F which meant ineligibility for sports, detention more than once, and of course, grounding. (Meanwhile, the recipient of my $2 daily, Eric Stenner had plenty of money for baseball cards and ice cream sandwiches)

Those cheating techniques aren’t very transferrable to what I consider collaboration in my current work environment. I’ve discovered that having multiple brains is better than having just one.

You’re missing out if you don’t collaborate. Invite think tanks, solicit feedback, and request borrowed perception from others.

In a team environment, it’s not about getting credit or really even giving credit. If it’s mutually understood as a value, your church or organization will be better for it.

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The Art of Self-deprecation in Leadership

When you’re 5’7”, bald, wear glasses, failed Algebra twice and had your greatest athletic moments competing against invisible competitors in your own backyard, it is easy to self-deprecate. In fact, it’s intuitive.

Like most everyone, I have concern for my image. But when I have foregone my hopes of people seeing me as similar to my childhood heroes (Nick Barkley, The Big Valley, Paunch, CHiPs, and Maverick, Top Gun), I have successfully enabled people to connect with me quicker.

Someone who doesn’t hide their inadequacies – whether they are physical, mental, or spiritual – becomes more approachable to others. You can’t lead if people won’t approach you.

When your vocational position gives you authority over people, there is often an intimidation factor that comes with it (even if you’re 5’7”). Self-deprecation typically makes you less threatening. Your position gives you power; your personality should not.

I spoke once to a group about the idea of self-deprecation and praising its advantages, and I unintentionally made the comment that my pastor and I often take the opportunity to “self-defecate when together.” Awkward! See, I told you self-deprecation comes very naturally to me.

Learn to take yourself less seriously. Learn to not speak about your church’s size or your recent accomplishments.

Others valuing your leadership and strengths take time and it is rarely done with making comments about yourself and bragging. The appropriate amount of self-deprecation can go a long way in allowing people to connect with you, and enabling you to lead them as they learn your strengths, over time.

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