Collaborators – Check Your Ego At The Door… (Collaborative Conversation Series)

In 1985 Quincy Jones used his influence to draw every major American recording artist of the day into a studio to lay down the legendary track We Are The World to raise money for the victims of Ethiopia’s famine.

When people marvelled at his ability to make the collaboration work, Jones explained that he’d taped a simple sign on the entrance: “Check Your Ego At The Door”

Collaboration has two components, the linear and the non linear parts.

Linear will be the contract, processes and systems. Non Linear is the behavioural, cultural, leadership climate and team ethos. Some people call it the soft stuff.. and the irony is it is the hardest part to make happen and deliver on.


Like it not we all show up with ego’s – its part of who we are. However, I like to explain it as a choice.

EGO = Everything Gets Owned.

We can use our ego in the pursuit of defending our position, being self centred, protectionism, unilateralism. “That’s my profit, my idea, my benefit, my rules, my decision…”    The ego is trying to look good at the cost of others.


EGO = Enabling the Growth of Others

We use our ego in the pursuit of win/win, looking out for others, being prepared to compromise in the line of collaboration, being wholly focussed on helping others excel, multilateralism, transforming relationships.   The ego is feeling good on the growth of others. Cool.

Adopting the latter definition of ego is a big project as a human being – its a massive part of realising an effective collaboration. It’s fascinating, at least to me.

Paul Fox

Paul Fox has been active as a Construction Industry Performance Coach for the last 20 years and remains at the forefront of Collaborative Working and High Performance Team Behaviours. He disrupts the status quo of individuals, project and senior teams who want exponentially more output with much less struggle.

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