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Colorful illustration of a diverse team collaborating and sharing ideas around a table

Whole Student SUPPORT

Building Collaborative Skills Through Teamwork

Gain important insights into how to develop your collaborative and leadership skills through teamwork in high school and college.

Working in collaboration with others sparks creativity, fosters diverse ideas, and encourages innovative thinking through collaboration. It’s also great preparation for the workforce.

The skills you develop through teamwork apply in all sorts of situations, from classroom groups to intramural teams to professional projects. Engagement with varied perspectives and problem-solving methods not only enriches your team’s collective contributions, but also nurtures your own personal growth.

Finding creative solutions

Working in a team often leads to you toward creative solutions you might not have discovered working solely on your own. In their book The Innovation Code, authors Jeff DeGraff and Staney DeGraff argue that constructive conflict between stakeholders with different worldviews is what drives innovation. Exposing yourself to varied perspectives, ideas, and problem-solving approaches also nurtures adaptability and a growth mindset.

Having collaborative conversations

Engaging with individuals from different backgrounds and with varying perspectives encourages the formation of robust relationships based on mutual understanding and respect. It also drives innovation. In a Harvard Business Review analysis, authors Sylvia Ann Hewlett et al. note ensuring that everyone is heard is one of the critical behaviors to unlocking innovation. Learning to collaborate effectively—expressing ideas and listening to other perspectives—is fundamental for success in any team setting.

Boosting self-confidence

Recognizing the value of your individual contributions in a final project, as well as validating the contributions of others and sharing in your team’s collective achievements, can all build your self-confidence. Demonstrating your ability to recognize your (and others’) strengths, setting clear boundaries, and committing to a fair distribution of labor can further boost your leadership skills.

Preparing for the future

Working within a team is critical for honing the essential skills sought by employers—it allows for leadership and time management skills to flourish, critical thinking and effective communication to be honed, and a respect for the contributions of the team to be instilled. The strategies and collaborative techniques you learn can help you be a positive addition to any employer. (Just consider how many times you find the word team in job descriptions!)

Learning self-leadership

According to Charles Manz, self-leadership is about influencing yourself, a feat that is, predictably, easier when you’re motivated to complete a task and more difficult when you find the task onerous. Self-leadership involves taking responsibility for outcomes, displaying self-motivation, and advancing your self-direction—qualities nurtured through teamwork experiences. In his essay about self-leadership, Manz asserts that self-leadership also contributes to increased competence, self-control, and sense of purpose. Once you have an understanding of your own self-leadership, becoming a team leader is a natural progression!

The collaborative nature of many high school and college projects is not merely an academic accident—it’s an opportunity for you to cultivate essential skills, build meaningful relationships, and prepare yourself for the demands of a competitive workforce.

Want to learn more about life during and after college? Watch our webinar below!