ATHENA Leadership Virtue: Collaboration

The York County Economic Alliance recently launched their new Professional Women's Alliance (PWA) to share resources that celebrate, support, promote, and advance the success of women in business. The PWA's first event was a luncheon featuring past ATHENA recipients who spoke about the individual virtues that make up the ATHENA Leadership Model. They have graciously agreed to share their perspectives here, as well.

By: Debbie Simon

ATHENA defines collaboration as:

Valuing the gifts each individual brings, encouraging participation from those who are often overlooked, and Deepening awareness and knowledge through diversity.

It’s teamwork at a higher level. Women have been collaborating for centuries without particularly calling it that or making a big deal about it. Think quilting bees, where women worked together to make one beautiful quilt, or even further back in time to communal raising of children and making meals in the Pilgrim days. Before women joined the workforce, they collaborated on charitable events, school events, etc.

Somewhere early in my life, maybe it was from my mother and her friends who did not have working careers, I learned that you could accomplish more by enlisting others to help. In other words: collaboration.

I believe the ultimate benefits of collaboration are:

  • Access to skills and strengths you may not possess. As my husband always says, you can’t be good at everything. By bringing together a diverse group of people, you tap into their skills and strengths to help solve a problem or work on a project.
  • It creates a learning experience for all who are involved. You have an opportunity to learn other skills and knowledge from those you are working with.
  • Collaboration allows you to solve problems and innovate faster. Trying to accomplish something on your own takes a lot longer than collaborating with others, as they may already possess the answers that you need or you can divide the work up.
  • Collaboration gives you access to other people you may not have had the opportunity to meet before. This helps with the ATHENA Principle of Build Relationships.

The big takeaway for me is that collaboration avoids duplication of efforts or services. It avoids reinventing the wheel, as we say.

We as women are naturals at collaboration. So as leaders, we help encourage others and foster collaboration to reap the benefits.

In the words of Aristotle, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

And this, I feel, is the true benefit of collaboration.

Debbie Simon headshot.jpg

Debbie Simon is a trustee of the Board of the Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. She spent the majority of her career as Chief Operating Officer of SF&Company, now Baker Tilley. She has served on many nonprofit boards in York County. She is current past Chair of the Byrnes Health Education Center and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of York College of PA. She received the ATHENA International Leadership award in 2001.

The ATHENA Leadership Award® was inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology known for her strength, courage, wisdom and enlightenment - qualities embodied in the ATHENA Leadership Model®. The ATHENA Leadership Award® is presented to a woman - or man - who is honored for professional excellence, community service, and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills. Nominations for the York County Economic Alliance ATHENA Award are being accepted until November 18, 2016.