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Eric D. Brown

Excellent post Steve. I've seen many people destroy their careers because they don't think about how their actions (or inaction) affects others.

Thanks for the link to the study.

Tom Haskins

Steve: Thanks for this great conundrum for us to ponder!
The fact that this individual met all his goals and was liked by everyone indicates several things to me: He learned to trust his left brain as his most reliable thought processes in his mind. He understood he was getting rewarded by a performance context where mistakes are bad, procedures rule and games are to be played by the rules. He has learned to beware of scams, bogus opportunities and false promises while doggedly pursuing his objectives.

The empathy, compassion, fluidity and creativity that make collaboration happen are all right brain functions. The context where collaboration thrives is developmental; trusting gradual processes, open ended explorations, facts subject to interpretation and continual use of mistakes. Collaboration involves lots of false starts, hyped possibilities and explorations of what-if's that go beyond the constraints of what-is.

I suspect the opportunities to collaborate and feedback about not "playing well with others" would show up on his radar as: become unreliable by switching over to right brain functionality. Act like a loser by deviating from the reward system, procedures and avoidance of mistakes. Become a sucker for those dreamers who are clearly out of touch with the data, constraints and harsh realities of business survival. When I paint the picture this way, it's small wonder "he didn't get it", lacked EQ" and "didn't apply his smarts to the real challenge".


If a manager is highly intelligent but can't manage, I've often wondered what the point of having them as a non-collaborative manager is? There is no i in teamwork.

Ellen Weber

Thanks for the inspiration to look beyond any one to embrace the team, Steve. Love the wonderful tools embedded in this post! This is a real keeper.

As I pondered the steps I realized that they all made sense. Well most did...:-)

In # 4 - would like to think that - even if you have only 1% of the vote, and sense it is best to buck the system - that you inspire the team to help you do so with zip:-). Thoughts?

Frode H.

Interserting post as always Steve, and also interesting comments.
"Some people burn bridges. He never built them." - I have gotten one tip I live by from my grandfather. Treat everybody with respect on your way up, because you will meet them on your way down.

Collaboration is the only way at my job, both in my department and across departments. For instance we have a very good tone with our sales department. And because of this we produce the most sales leads in the company, so they get easy sells. We do not give the employees a bonus for this, it is just done by pure will of providing good leads, and they see the value of generating income to the company. On the other hand we have two other departments that do not work that great together.

They do the same as us, one customer care dep. and one sales dep. just towards a different market. They try to implement the customer care crew to provide leads for their sales dep. As they have larger budgets they give away commission for each lead they can provide. The result is very interesting; they do not get leads at all. Even if employees can generate a healthy addition to their pay checks, while my department provides so many leads that the sales dep. almost can’t handle all of them. I do not give out a bonus at all for it. What is then wrong? The collaboration between the two others dep. is bad. They are almost on different planets in different galaxies. My team has all been one full day with the sales dep. learning how they work. The sales dep. has been with us for one full day each to learn what we do; it is actually a part of the training for new employees. Yet another example that great collaboration gives outstanding results. I do not see any other way.

Frode H.

Oh.. one other thing...
If you watch the apprentice on TV, you will see great examples of this all the time. I remember one that was a member of mensa, he did fail on this topic...

Scott McArthur

I just wish more people would listen to the psychologists - play, fun, downtime - these all contribute to productivity and success!

Steve Roesler


Glad you found this helpful, as well as the link.

Steve Roesler

Hi, Tom,

That's quite a complete context for the situation and, having been intimately familiar with it, is a darned good diagnostic from an experienced-but-not-involved third party. Kudos!

The EQ thing was the issue in spades. Even though he intellectually understood what was being said, responding outside of the reward system made no rational sense. So he didn't.

What is more fascinating is that his organization has tossed around the idea of perhaps going hat-in-hand and asking him to return. Seems that the idea of having someone whose integrity is unquestionable and who can get results is not a bad thing after all. And, they have reconsidered their definition of "plays well with others." That is, everyone doesn't need to sing koombayah to be seen as a loyal manager.

Film at 11...

Steve Roesler


Actually this guy was highly collaborative and could manage to the results. The fact that he did not automatically initiate communication when something changed--usually because of tight deadlines and the need to manage across time zones--caused him to be labelled "non-collaborative."

Not so. He actually was highly collaborative when one examines his real behavior. The organization expected too much communication and information at the expense of him being able to deliver the results they asked for.

Steve Roesler

Hi, Ellen,

You know me too well.

I confess that I pondered the 51% line for a while; you picked up the reason why.

Since this post was in response to some emails about large organizations and standing up for one's self--and surviving--I decided to err on the side of how things really work vs. how we'd like to see them work. The reason? I didn't want my readers getting fired en masse:-)

That said, your suggestion is the primo way to go if one can say something to this effect:

"I disagree with that action because_____. However, if it is (your) (the team's) conclusion that we should go that way, I will support it. If other information starts to tell us we shouldn't have done it this way, then I'll revisit it with you."

What most managers look for is support; in the face of new, hard, evidence, they'll take a look at changing direction.

Steve Roesler


Your explanation of how the departments are coming together to exchange information in order to improve (I hope that's the reason) is a hopeful one.

In the case of sales leads, etc., something tells me that the departments that are not producing well also have some other issues going on.

Keep us posted here...this could be a good case study, Frode.

Steve Roesler


Isn't it kind of fascinating that the very things people would insist upon on Saturday and Sunday somehow are outlawed the rest of the week?

Go figure.

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