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The 'highly desirable' skills that successful people have

The 'highly desirable' skills that successful people have

By Heidi K. Gardner/ When young people ask me for career advice, I always tell them, “Don't just focus on your accomplishments. Be cooperative.”

Through a decade of teaching and research at Harvard Business and Law Schools, I discovered an important and often overlooked insight: People who understood how to collaborate in teams gained a huge competitive advantage over those who didn't.

Advantages of collaboration skills

When it comes to employment, smart associates are highly desirable candidates. They deliver higher quality results, are promoted faster, are noticed more by managers and have more satisfied customers.

But here's what shocked me the most: cooperation skills are surprisingly rare, especially among men.

How to be an exceptional collaborator

Being a collaborator is not easy. But the main goal is simple: bringing people together to solve problems and learn something new.

Here's how to get better at it:

1. Be an inclusive leader.

Whether or not you're the project leader, take steps to bring different people together.

The mindset I always have is, “That person thinks differently than I do. They know something different that I don't and I can learn a lot from them."

These people should not only have different fields of knowledge. They should also represent different professional backgrounds, ages and life experiences.

2. Ask for help.

If you are responsible for submitting a sales report every week, it may make you think that your opinion is the most valuable.

But if you turn to experts across departments for insight, your data points are likely to be more compelling.

Don't forget to mention the names of those who contributed, as well as their expertise. This will give your report more credibility.

*Heidi K. Gardner, PhD, is a distinguished fellow at Harvard Law School