Confidence, Composure, Credibility: The 3 C’s of maintaining a collaborative spirit at work

Michelle Ray Promo Photo
By Michelle Ray
2015 Women’s Leadership Conference Breakout Session Speaker

It is often said that we spend more time with our work colleagues than our own families. With many of us working long hours, the pressure of juggling multiple tasks, doing more with less and managing mounting stress can often take a toll. In addition, we find ourselves spinning our wheels knowing that we need to be the best versions of ourselves at all times; maintaining a helpful and pleasant demeanor with our internal and external clients alike. However, the ability to work collaboratively while being mindful of our emotions sometimes eludes us for one simple reason: our humanness.

How do we preserve a spirit of cooperation when working with diverse personalities, differences of opinion, clashing values and varied interpretations of priorities? How is it possible to rise above the small stuff and remain focused on the big picture? The answer lies in leading yourself first in all relationships, professional and personal, by honing these skills:


The ability to address business and life situations with confidence is one of the most attractive traits we can possess. Interestingly, however, at times when we need it the most, confidence often eludes us. Examples include making an unpopular or difficult decision that impacts our team, mustering the courage to take a stand on behalf of our peers, or the need to address a critical issue with a co-worker or manager…just to name a few. When we can tap into our inner resolve in these situations, we have the opportunity to strengthen relationships and solidify our reputation as a proactive problem-solver who values the wisdom of a collaborative, rather than a combative approach.


Much has written in recent times about the importance of “E.Q”, (emotional intelligence), over I.Q, (cognitive intelligence). The capacity to respond professionally to a disparaging remark in a composed manner requires us to manage the ramifications of unpleasant business interactions spiralling out of control. When such conflicts escalate, the damage to our working relationships may be irreparable. Worse, the negative consequences in terms of lost productivity and impact on our organization’s reputation can be immeasurable. Responding to these scenarios with mindfulness will go a long way to restore calm, re-establish trust and remind all that harmony and respect are the keys for outstanding teamwork.


A job title does not signify instant credibility, yet many of us attribute this trait to one’s credentials. However, credibility has nothing to do with position power and everything to do with consistency in action. We admire individuals who are not only clear about their values, but live them on a daily basis. For example, when we tell others that we “value great workplace relationships,” are we demonstrating this core belief in all our interactions? We acquire a positive reputation by being values-based in everything we do. Imagine the possibilities if we all committed to saying what we mean and meaning what we say, during every interaction? Values not only drive our behavior, they also drive an organization’s purpose.

When we communicate authentically, we are able connect with our peers on a deeper level and appreciate different points of view. By developing a greater understanding of others, we are able to contribute to a collaborative atmosphere, enjoy the camaraderie of our colleagues and achieve renewed passion for our chosen vocation.

About the author

Based in Vancouver, Canada, Michelle Ray is a leadership expert, business conference speaker, CEO and founder of the Lead Yourself First Institute. Michelle is the author of Lead Yourself First! Indispensable Lessons in Business and in Life.