By Carlo M. Cuesta

At Creation In Common, we spend much of our time facilitating collaborations with organizational leaders and have learned a great deal from individuals who have mastered the art of teaming with other creative people.

Here are a few major take aways:

1. Great collaborators are always bringing more oxygen into the room.
Highly creative collaborations burn quickly and they always need more oxygen to keep going. In these situations, ideas fly, take hold, transform, become something unexpected, and then lead to deeper insights. Great collaborators know when to stoke the flames with provocative insights. They also know how to sit back and recognize the other creative assets in the room, waiting quietly for the right opportunity to build on the last moment.

2. Great collaborators love ambiguity.
In those moments when everyone is lost and confused, great collaborators relish in the awkward silence. Here is when new connections are formed, when the group is about to find its way to next level. Those in fear will turn back, but the great collaborator holds to the moment. She or he sticks it out and asks… “what’s next?”

3. Great collaborators champion what is different.
That off-the-beaten path comment or the unique perspective that most do not understand is nothing for the great collaborator. She or he doesn’t just smile and then move on, they hear it out, work it out, and figure out how it works its way into the conversation. They see difference as a way forward and further fuel for creative ignition.

4. Great collaborators lead with generosity.
They don’t play political games or use the moment to raise their status. They’re not worried about what’s going on outside the room, everything that is important is right in front of them. They are always wondering what they can bring to the conversation and how they can help resource the effort.

5. Great collaborators are always willing to create a better collaboration.
They will stop the conversation and ask… “what are we doing here?” or “how can we do what we are doing better?” or “why is this important to us?… Why again?… And, WHY for a third time?” Always going deeper, challenging in a good way– making sure that what we are engaging around is truly meaningful, something worthy of everyone’s effort.

Finally, great collaborators are story shapers. They listen carefully to all the different stories that each individual brings into the room, they reflect on these stories, they share their own, and together with their colleagues wonder about the new story they will create together. With great enthusiasm and courage, they set pen to paper and write the first line.