"I am working with a peer who does not seem interested in collaboration. Whenever I turn my back, he goes to the President and pushes his own agenda. I think he's only interested in showing me up."

Our response:

You've posed a great challenge. It is hard to continue to invite cooperation when another person does not seem receptive, or behaves in ways that seem counterproductive, as if they are "out for themselves".

Here's the best we can do: Keep asking about a shared goal (which is the goal we share). Make sure it is truly a shared goal, and not simply your own agenda. Unless there is shared goal, there is no basis for collaboration. Without shared goals, we pursue individual agendas, and that is simply called politics. With a shared goal, we can begin to discuss how various behaviors make reaching that goal harder than necessary.

Once we have a shared goal, we can open up a dialogue about ways to behave to reach the goal more easily. We can use this dialogue to build trust, and then ask (with a desire to understand) about behaviors that seem to lack a foundation in cooporation. There is generally an adjustment that each individual person can make to ease the tension and make it easier to reach the goal. It takes skill, patience and commitment to the goal, to engage in these conversations, and a presumption of innocence. Any breakthrough is worth celebrating because it will immediately feel like there is greater ease and grace in going for the goal. Until the breakthrough happens, keep asking yourself: How can I use EVEN THIS to take my leadership skills to the next level?

By the way, with this question….you've also told us something about yourself. You've told me that you can sometimes feel competitive and push your own agenda. What we presume about another's motivation mostly just reveals our own patterns. It is a hallucination to think we can imagine why someone behaves the way they do. So use this insight to examine how you can let go of concerns driving any desire to posture with the CEO and make the shared goal more important than how you personally are seen. This willingness is a “turnkey” event in creating effective collaboration. Learning this was not especially easy for some of us…so stay supportive and patient with yourself while you are learning. This will enable you also be patient with others who are also learning.