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Collaboration in an interdependent world

Mar 30,2020 - Last updated at Mar 30,2020

This is an invaluable time to cultivate lessons learned. If there is one thing that we could all agree on is the fact that we are all interdependent and interconnected, we rise together and fall together. The mentality of "us" vs "them" is an evil understanding that has plagued humanity for centuries. In the age of globalisation, we need to be reminded of all social ills preventing us from realising our fullest potential as human beings and good stewards of the earth. An understanding of “us” vs “them” has torn communities apart and implanted racial discrimination based on ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds. When a global crisis comes sweeping forcefully across borders, what good does a mentality of "us" vs "them" do us? challenges such as a pandemic disease recognise no border, skin colour or social status.

The notion of human superiority in that we are better than others because of our political, religious, ethnic and racial affiliations becomes obsolete in a worldly disaster such as this one.

Today, all man-made barriers are broken down, they no longer serve anyone, we are all in this together. No wisdom, wealth, fame, social status, or knowledge can do us well except for one wisdom, that is, we should embrace our diversity and leverage each other's diverse talents, skills and experiences. That is how we ought to look at humanity and the world.

This is a universal calling for all those who lead and work with diverse people and teams across societal sectors and nations. Visionaries, change agents, leaders, managers, development practitioners and policymakers must embrace a culture of participation, collaboration and inclusivity. We need to align all efforts towards solving common challenges. This should be done via proper stakeholder engagement techniques.

One of the greatest lessons that ought to be cultivated is the need to lead collectively, and when we do so, we can overcome the toughest of all challenges. Government and civil society in Jordan portrayed a great collaborative example, many banks, private businesses and citizens donated money to the Ministry of Health to help combat this disease. The armed forces, journalists, doctors, public health personnel and officials are all working hard to fight the spread of this disease, and they all have been collaborating efficiently. Citizens have also shown good discipline and a commitment to follow the government's instructions for safety in most areas across Jordan. This can be described as collective leadership.

This model of collaboration must be adopted and adapted to counter attack other national challenges, such as poverty and unemployment. Collaboration and leading collectively is an art and to cultivate a collective form of leadership in a community or a nation as a whole, we need to think of proper ways to delegate tasks according to people’s strengths and competencies to bring diverse talents and skills into a converging path.

Leadership in this sense is not a solo, nor a selfish endeavour but a process of copowerment. The principle of copowerment in development studies emphasises that mutual learning is a necessary component to foster growth and positive change, it is not a top-down approach rather a two-way model for mutual learning and growth. In this context, when different sectors such as government and civil society partner together to face challenges, they learn and accumulate experiences together to better face any future crisis in an ever more resilient manner.

The old ways are gone, and new dawn lies on the horizon. We and the world shall come out of this crisis more resilient. This experience invites us to embrace a spirit of mutual trust and cooperation and to think about collaborative models of engagement across different sectors to tackle challenges collaboratively. Let us all take this opportunity to learn the values of collaboration, trust, transparency and teamwork for a better future.

The writer is the founder at International Association of Facilitators – Jordan Chapter. A social platform dedicated to promoting a culture of participation and collaboration in organisations and communities and across sectors. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times

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