As defined by Leavitt and McKeown (based on their personal involvement in building, leading, and participating in hundreds of alliances), Collaborative Intelligence (CI) is the ability to productively work together for a common goal. CI is a critical ingredient for successful value alliances. Those with the highest levels of CI make a sincere effort to understand the views and needs of others; they listen honestly, thoughtfully, and objectively. They don’t lock into positions prematurely.
In Finding Allies, Building Alliances, Leavitt and McKeown build a strong case that CI directly impacts the sociology of the collaboration—the higher the level of CI in the group, the more likely it is to function as a value alliance. To some, high CI comes naturally; others need to learn its power. The five crucial traits of Collaborative Intelligence detailed in the book are:
- Attentive: Often those with high CI will possess strong points of view. However, they make an effort to hear other perspectives and will adjust their points of view once convinced they need adjusting.
- Optimistic, with an Abundance Mentality: High CI individuals see beyond immediate needs and desires to the long-term goal; they view problems through the lens of opportunity.
- Principle-focused: Bedrock values guide discussions and there are never any personal attacks.
- Transparent: Trust is at the heart of alliance building. Without trust, collaboration becomes negotiation, not a problem-solving exercise.
- Outcome-oriented: High CI people pursue overall team outcomes instead of individual win-lose statistics.