When my wife and I lived in Sonoma it was real country living. Every cold morning I had to start our wood burning stove to heat our home. Making fire is a unique ritual and I learned one of the most important principles in leadership from that ritual. Yes, from making fire.

When you look at a fire, the substantial logs are what you see. Of course you need good sized logs to make a fire that lasts for some time, but a good fire needs other individual items, such as a match or lighter, paper, and kindling. Any day that one of these items was missing, accomplishing the task of starting the fire was impossible. However, while these items are important individually, it is how they work together that makes a fire to warm a home. The matches ignite the paper, which serves as a fast fire to ignite the kindling, which in turn will get the logs to burn. Each item is important, but they are most valuable when working together.

Likewise, in a team setting every individual plays a significant role. The value of each person must be recognized and incorporated in collaborative teamwork. Valuable companies such as Google have found that simply optimizing each employee’s performance is not enough to build a fully collaborative team.

Because of our globalized and complex economy, true teamwork and collaboration is more important than ever. The Harvard Buisness Review pulished an article last month, explaining that ‘‘According to data … collected over the past two decades, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.” Further, they found that at many companies, the proportion of time spent in collaboration is approximately 80%.

Teams have become the core unit of organization within varying institutions, including companies, schools, government agencies and conglomerates. In a study done in 2015, executives indicated that a company’s profitability corresponded directly with collaboration amongst its employees. In order to excel and outperform its competitors, it is vital that company recognizes the value of collaboration and implements it at all levels. It is not only important to influence how well employees work on an individual basis, but how well they can work together as a team.

Learn more about the art and science of collaboration at and register for the upcoming March 18, 2016 Enlightened Negotiation Training.