Bringing people together from different cultures with varying languages, points of views, and experiences can be challenging for even the most skilled leaders. To succeed, leaders must master the art of collaboration, connecting people from all walks of life into networks working together to accomplish specific goals. Collaboration requires communication, inspiration, generosity, and courage.

Collaboration Means Work With, Not Boss Around

The Latin root for collaboration is “collaborare,” which means to “work with.” How often does this occur? Or, are orders given and followed, without time for creativity or problem-solving? The people around us have so much to contribute, but we must provide them with an opportunity to share their ideas and feelings.

It takes collaboration across a community to develop better skills for better lives.

Jose Angel Gurria

Neuroscience makes it possible to understand brain function and learn how to optimise it. To collaborate well, we must first overcome the FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) response in the amygdala. This means learning how to distinguish a real threat from a perceived threat and reconditioning the amygdala only to alert us when true dangers are present.

5 Ways To Improve Collaboration

A global economy requires leaders to develop higher levels of collaboration, agility, innovation, and performance than ever before. Leaders can improve their collaboration and relations with their peers, coworkers, family members, and friends by considering these five strategies.

1. Stop whining and complaining

Constant complaining is enough to bring even the brightest attitude down. Collaboration and innovation are forgotten in such a negative atmosphere. It’s normal to be frustrated and to vent these frustrations. Instead of talking about problems, try to turn the focus to all the joys in life and how the problems can
be solved.

2. Be present in the moment, and if you can’t, take a break
A wandering mind is a detriment in a constantly changing business environment. Leaders must be able to focus on the “now” and stop worrying about the past or being anxious about the future. Taking a break, as counterintuitive as it sounds, might be the best way to bring a troubled brain back on track.

3. Pay attention to the unspoken message, too
Words aren’t the only way that humans communicate. Gestures, body language, and facial expressions are equally important for effective communication. Missing these nuances may mean missing out on the real meaning of a conversation.

4. Bring the laughter back
So many offices have an atmosphere of hurried and hushed work, with little opportunity for discussion. Moderate levels of laughter are good for your health, so it’s critical to change the doom and gloom to laughter and light. Opening the windows, encouraging people to take a break outside, and asking about their day can improve a stifling environment.

5. Find the courage to step outside of your comfort zone
Leadership skills need fresh ideas to continually improve and evolve, and a little adventure can give anyone a kick start. Always wanted to go skydiving or take a French cooking class? No matter what you desire, stop making excuses and find your courage to follow that dream. Neuroscience shows that positive experiences, or those that give us increased social, physical, cognitive and sensory stimulation, can overcome the negatives of stress.

Leadership skills should be fluid, ready to adapt and adjust to any situation. Globalisation requires strong collaboration, and we can improve collaboration by being brave, open to others, positive, and present in the now. Recondition your brain to alert you to actual dangers, instead of jumping at every shadow. 

1. Hasan, H.,Hasan, T. F. (2009). Laugh Yourself into a Healthier Person: A Cross Cultural Analysis of the Effects of Varying Levels of Laughter on Health. International Journal of Medical Sciences, 6 (4), 200–211.

2. Hegde, P., O’Mara, S., Laxmi, T. R. (2017). Extinction of Contextual Fear with Timed Exposure to Enriched Environment: A Differential Effect. Annals of Neurosciences, 24(2), 90–104.

Originally posted on: 9 August 2018
Last updated on: 18 February 2024

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Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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