In my 30 years working in and for corporations, I have noticed that the focus is too often on process and monitoring the marketplace through the Internet and social media. We increasingly neglect the relationships we must forge with individuals, cooperative intelligence. This focus on process is widespread, due to the high usage of digital communication that has largely reduced telephone communication and face-to-face meetings.
Cooperative Intelligence puts people in the center. Its foundation is a giving attitude and practices which encourage openness, sharing and trust. Trust begins with communication, telling the truth, and doing what is good for people and the organization. When people trust you, they often will do what you ask them to do since they want to.
Cooperative intelligence integrates cooperative leadership, cooperative connection, and cooperative communication. Cooperative intelligence can be applied in any functional area of a company and in any industry.
Cooperative Intelligence: Cooperative Leadership
Too many leaders make decisions without listening to customers or fellow employees who have a lot more hands-on connection in the marketplace. Top down management does not encourage creativity, risk taking or cooperation. Rather it fosters mistrust, a lack of confidence and fear among employees.
Regardless of where you sit in your company, you are a leader. Before you can lead or motivate others to cooperate with you, reflect on how you lead yourself. Motivation is often triggered by your good example. What leaders do says more about who they are than what they say.
Cooperative leaders are not full of ego and pushing their own agendas. They welcome information from fellow employees and from those outside the company. Employees know their management listens and will share information and make recommendations to improve the company’s competitive position.
While we can’t control other’s attitudes towards us, we can control our own attitudes and behavior. Our attitude sets the tone, regardless of the other person’s motivation, position or personal issues.
Cooperative Intelligence: Cooperative Connection
I am always amazed that many of my clients who are developing a competitive intelligence operation think that they can get competitive data from people in their company without offering them something back in return. A cooperative connector is altruistic. Consider and ask how you can help someone, and you will make a positive and lasting impression.
Recognize that achieving your goals and fulfilling your mission depends as much on social capital as it does on your human capital—knowledge, expertise and experience. The essence of cooperative relationship building is to recognize that it takes effort on your part, and it happens one person at a time. Cooperative connectors realize that everyone they connect with becomes part of their network and every stranger has the potential to become an important connection.
A cooperative connector projects a positive attitude as one who provides a valuable service, intellectual capital and great connections.
Cooperative Intelligence: Cooperative Communication
Never before have we had so many choices about how or when to communicate. Today we witness the replacement of face to face meetings with teleconferencing and webinars. Many telephone calls have been replaced with email and texting. On the bright side, video communication is an affordable and effective solution for remote face to face communication.
Never before have clear writing skills been so essential. We need to be better writers since so much communication is digital. Digital communication can be challenging for those who were not brought up with it. There is a wide disparity in the quality of digital communication. It’s easy to have misunderstandings as it’s flat communication, just the written word.
Cooperative communicators learn the preferred forms of communication of our colleagues. Cooperative communicators are sensitive and know when digital communication isn’t real-time enough, and it’s time to pick up the telephone, SKYPE or meet in person. In a face to face meeting or video conference, we can read people’s body language and listen to their tone, which is absent in digital communication. We also get immediate feedback.
Cooperative communicators are active listeners who listen with their eyes, ears and emotions. They observe body language, tune into the tone of voice, feelings and intention. Cooperative communicators don’t judge the person they’re conversing with. They listen with an open mind.
Good listening will differentiate you from most people. Cooperative communicators know that when people realize you are listening to them without bias, they will respect you and open up with you.
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