Weekly tips and stories that will help you do your job and make you smile (or groan).
By Sean Filidis June 23, 2022
Are You Too Proud to Collaborate?
I have a major character flaw: I think I'm always right. I mean, my ideas are clearly the best. My opinions are more thoughtful and complete than others. The arguments I make are water-tight; my conclusions superior. Last month, I wrote an article in praise of Grammarly. The truth is, I refuse most of Grammarly's suggestions because I find my original wording far more charming. 😉 Obviously, I'm dealing with some issues. Then again, doesn't everyone always believe they're right? After all, if you thought you were wrong, you'd believe something else. It's a bit of a paradox. I'm not sure how widespread this particular strain of hubris is among marketers, but I suspect many of you can identify, at least secretly. There's nothing wrong, per se, with being confident or having strong opinions — given that they're rooted in earned expertise rather than a bloated self-image. But when you're part of a team, this know-it-all mindset can get in the way of healthy collaboration. Moreso, if your teammates hold the same high opinions of themselves (which they probably do). And while this problem isn't unique to business teams, it can find a uniquely comfortable foothold among people with T-shaped skillsets — an increasingly common physique for modern marketers to have.
When you know a bit about everything, it can be tempting to think you know more about a particular something than you do. And that may make you less likely to involve others who might know better.
(I'll pause so you can read that again.)
Know-it-allism can be deadly. But how do you know if you have it?
One telltale sign is frequently thinking, "I'll just do it myself, so I know it's done right." Occasionally, you may be correct. But when this becomes a habit, some severe symptoms start to emerge:
- You end up overworked
- You begin to lose the respect of your colleagues
- Your results are consistently mediocre
I've known plenty of exceptionally talented marketers who tended in this direction. They were great strategists and great at execution, but they routinely sidelined others. Their tenures were all brief. Their projects mostly flopped because they failed to secure buy-in and gain help from experts who could improve upon their brilliant ideas. They were too proud to collaborate.
Unfortunately, many believe that doing something alone signifies strength, and obtaining help signifies weakness.
But I’m here to tell you it's just the opposite! At Foleon, one of our company values reads like this: There are no lone wolves at Foleon. Our competitive advantage lies in our ability to collaborate, share expertise, and draw on one another's strengths. The synergy generated as we put our heads together, listen to one another, and each contribute our best makes our team positively unstoppable. What I love about this (besides the fact that I wrote it 😏) is that it gets at the heart of what collaboration is for: making us stronger. It's our competitive advantage.
See, to draw on another is not an admission of weakness or inability but a sign of strength and leadership. Knowing how to harness other people's gifts is a skill in itself — a powerful one.
Stubbornly believing that your ideas are always best, on the other hand, reveals a narrowmindedness that, in the long run, is more likely to contribute to failure than success. And more often than not, lurking beneath that imperious self-assuredness is nothing but insecurity. I'm sometimes guilty of "I'm just gonna do this myself" thinking. But I've also repeatedly seen that the work I'm most proud of resulted from collaboraton — like this killer ad I created with Vincent, our creative director. The copy agitates material fears and frustrations digital marketers endure, but it’s the genius “PFF…” icon with its epic expression that gets their attention. The result was wittier than either of our two brains could have conjured on their own. It turns out that the cleverest schemes and most successful projects emerge when you understand your team's strengths, put heads together, and listen to one another. You'll be surprised how many good ideas other people have.
Let’s talk about it together!
Share your thoughts on LinkedIn using #thecravediscussion This week’s topic: I'd love to hear about and see some examples of great things you've built that were made better through collaboration.
Here’s what I’m into right now.
- Reading: This article in The Atlantic, Is Google Dying? Or Did the Web Grow Up? is an interesting read about how frustrating searching for information has become. Between the sponsored content and the SEO optimized junk, more and more people are turning to Reddit for human answers.
- Watching: It took three years to produce but only 2 days to watch. I’m talking, of course, about season 4 of Stranger Things — well, the first chapter, at least. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.
About the author
Writer, tech junkie, marketer, musician, traveler, photographer. At Foleon, I’m generally in charge of words and enforcing strict company-wide comma quotas.