Do you REALLY want to be part of that “synergistic collaboration”, or are you just playing nice?

Collaborations are often touted as the essential ingredient for businesses that want to to reach next-level success. And it’s true. Collaborations CAN help you succeed. They CAN allow you to draw from a collective pool of knowledge, resources, and networks. They CAN be a boost to your career.

The key word here is: CAN.

I see SO many women waste their precious time and energy in collaborations that go nowhere. Women often feel pressured to say yes to avoid coming off as ungracious and to “play nice”. As a result, they can end up in collaborations that don’t benefit them — AT ALL.

On today’s episode of Fierce Feminine Leadership, I’ll show you HOW to recognize the signs that YOU are in an unproductive collaboration, WHY you need to practice skepticism when someone tells you all about the synergies they see, AND I’ll give you practical tips on how to recognize a collaboration that will actually benefit you..

I’ll also be discussing my own decision-making process for determining whether a collaboration is the right fit for me and my business. Make sure to listen so you can start saving your time and energy for effective collaborations that will actually boost your career.

Listen here.

Read the Transcript:

Eleanor Beaton: You are listening to Fierce Feminine Leadership. Episode number 257. Three reasons why women need to stop collaborating.

Hello there and welcome back to Fierce Feminine Leadership. This is episode number 257. And today we’re going to be discussing why you need to stop wasting your time on partnerships and collaborations that go nowhere.

Now you’ve probably heard that collaboration is the new competition. That is a slogan and tagline that I have seen a lot lately especially when it comes to the field of women’s leadership and women in business and on the one hand I totally get it.

So let’s define the terms here so collaboration happens when two or more individuals or groups work together to achieve a win win outcome. Makes total sense and a lot of people consider these relationships to be positive or even an essential part of doing business in the modern age. And they certainly can be.

I mean when I look at my own evolution in this field it has absolutely been helped along by strategic partnerships. I entered into at the right time and you know ideally collaborations are going to allow you and other individuals or other groups to come together draw from a collective pool of knowledge, resources, assets and networks.

Now here’s the thing. It sounds great on paper but too many women are wasting time on collaborations that go absolutely nowhere. I see it constantly, so rather than you know a collaboration being two or more people coming together to create a win win outcome, What I see more often than not is two or more people coming together in service of a bright shiny object that actually takes them away from their core focus or core goals. And the challenge is that, why is it happening. Because we as women are conditioned to be nice, to say yes, to play well together. And I think that sometimes we as women feel pressured to say yes to collaborations and partnerships and we don’t want to come off as ungracious for saying no.

So that’s what we’re going to dive into in this episode. But I’ve got to say the rule of being nice is just one rule that we as powerhouse women leaders need to break. Saying yes to opportunities saying yes to extra work saying yes to tangential requests is what gets you started. It’s what can help you make a name for yourself. But as you advance and as you get into that next level of leadership saying no becomes much more powerful. And what I have realized is that for you to take that next level of leadership into your ultimate power potential influence it’s about and learning some of the roles that made you successful earlier on. So if you want to learn more about that, if you want to learn more about the rules you need to learn, we have just launched a very cool new resource.

It’s called Five lessons you need to unlearn now to unlock your ultimate power, potential and presence. And you can get it at This is a resource based on coaching consulting and research that I have done with powerhouse level leaders of the top 4 percent of women leaders women who are leading organizations. Women who are leading think tanks. Women who are leading global movements get the lead magnet, And there you’re going to see five of the key lessons these women needed to unlearn in order to unlock their next level of success. And this is absolutely something you’re going to want to pay attention to if you’re ready to take a big leap professionally this year.

So let’s talk a little bit about what’s in the episode. So today we’re going to talk about why we waste our time with collaborations, how to recognize the signs of an unproductive time wasting collaboration and where you can go to get the information you need to ultimately develop the tools to identify better collaborations in the future. So this is all about saying no to time wasting “opportunities” so that you can be available for the collaboration that will truly move you forward.

Now, if you are new to Fierce Feminine Leadership welcome to the show. Thank you so much for tuning in and being with us. And if you are a loyal listener. Thank you so much for being part of our fierce tribe and lending me your valuable time and attention all listeners. New and Old we encourage you to subscribe to the show on iTunes and to leave us a review on iTunes. It helps more than you know and it really helps to keep the show going.

Now for those of you who don’t know me my name is Eleanor Beaton. I am a women’s leadership development mentor and I am the creator of The Leadership Lab which is the world’s premier development program for women leaders who are ready to unlock their next level of impact influence and significance and contribution in the workplace.

I want you to stay tuned to the end because I’m going to give you a sneak peek into my own decision making process for determining whether a partnership or collaboration is the right fit for me and my business. And of course make sure that you get your hands on the document that accompanies this episode: Five lessons powerhouse women leaders had to unlearn to unlock their next level of impact influence and success. And you can get that at

So here’s the deal I came up with this episode idea a couple of months back because I saw side by side two clients who had entered into partnerships/collaborations. One client to huge success, the other client two huge failure, and their success and failure pattern’s really mimic what I have seen working with women clients over the last few years. So one of my clients, I’ll call her Carol. She she was she had entered into a collaboration.

And so this collaboration was with an established entrepreneur who held an established event who was able to bring together a lot of people inside Carol’s target audience. Carol went and she ultimately used a speaking opportunity there to launch a new offering that she had. She made a lot of money in sales at this event as specifically as it did as a direct result of her participation and collaboration in this event. And what stuck out about it was that she was collaborating with a partner who had existing assets in place (ie: this event). It was a proven business model that she was stepping into to add value and each of the partners were contributing something different. So Carol was contributing knowledge expertise edutainment value to this established event and her collaborative partner in this situation was contributing an asset, a powerful asset, which was an – established event with an established audience of people. OK. Totally Win-Win.

Meanwhile I had another client we’re going to call her Carla. And Carla entered into a collaboration, similar type of collaboration, somebody said look I have this thing that I’m creating. Watch those words. I’m creating (ie: unproven business model). I’ve got this thing I’m creating. I would love for you to be a part of it. Watch out for that be a part of it often means: “I don’t know what exactly what it is that I want you to do but I really like what you have going on and I’d like to play together.”

And here’s what I need you to do. So in Carla’s case this ultimately went nowhere. It was a huge waste of time so Carla pulls together these resources to contribute to this as yet unnamed platform with an unproven business model with a partner who does not have a track record of being able to deliver an audience. Okay, so it was totally unproven. It was for a very unspecific outcome. It was not clear what each person was going to be contributing to this partnership. I think you can see where I’m going with this.

And the thing is, when I think about the brilliant women leaders that I work with very often I will see a lot of those otherwise brilliant people entering into really wrongheaded partnerships and collaborations. I mean why would you waste your time contributing your valuable hard-won insight, expertise, time, resources to something that is totally unproven in most different ways. It’s a small margin of an upside but has very likelihood of really going nowhere. I see it all the time.

And why do we do this. So a couple of reasons I think why women enter into totally time wasting collaborations. So the first is that we don’t want to say no. For a woman to stand in her power and say no, especially to another woman, is still something that you know is a challenging thing to ask a woman to do. So I totally see that happening.

The other reason quite frankly that we enter into partnerships is because in the moment we’re feeling a little bit too wimpy to do it on our own. And so we have this vision, this mission that we want to go out and achieve. And rather than building it with our own team we go out and try to find and establish these murky collaborative partnerships to help us do it because we don’t have the confidence that we can do it on our own with our own internal team. And I say: if it’s something that is important to you and worthwhile investing in, invest in it. Build your team around it rather than create these odd unclear collaborative partnerships to make it happen.

Another reason that we as women enter into time wasting collaborations is because we mistakenly overcommit and then in that moment we’re really lacking the courage to get out of it. Look I overcommitted to this and as I’m as it’s unfolded I’m saying it’s really not a good fit and I’m going to bow out. Well this is something some kind of direct conversation that sometimes we as women can have a tough time having.

There’s another reason that we can enter into unproductive collaboration. And that’s because we miscalculate what the other person is bringing to the table. Listen, if you’re entering into a partnership or collaboration with someone you better be clear about what exactly is it that they’re bringing to the table other than being a nice person who’s fun to joke around with.

Like this is where we as women need to be focused on assets. One of my mentors used to say that one of her most favorite words one of the sexiest words was assets and it’s so true. And I think for a for a collaboration to be effective you’ve each got to be bringing assets to the table.

And the other reason that we enter into unproductive partnerships is because we collaborate for collaborations sake rather than being strategic. You know, I was doing a talk the other day and I said : if there is one word I’d like to drop a bomb on it would be collaboration because here’s what happened. Someone comes and say says ‘Hey Eleanor do you want to collaborate on this?’ And I have zero desire to collaborate. It’s like no. So when you say no to a collaboration it’s like your anti-collaboration, which is so unfair. It’s not anti-collaboration, it’s just this is not a strategic, actually it’s a total waste of my time. But thank you for asking.

So here’s how you recognize signs of an unproductive collaboration. So the first is it’s going to drain your time and energy without giving you much in return. Id be very very clear on exactly what you’re going to get in return. And it can’t be nebulous. You’ve got to be clear. At minimum here’s what we’re going to get. Well here’s what we’re going to get out of it and try to quantify it.

Another sign of an unproductive collaboration is when somebody invites you to collaborate and they have no track record that proves they can do what they say they can do. They have no proven track record of being able to do that or deliver that to you. So, an example of this would be, like in Carla’s case, she was asked to collaborate on this platform and the person who’s putting together this platform would need to make sure that there are thousands of members you know within about a year long period in order for that to make sense and then you start looking at her track record and there’s no track record of her ever being able to to drive that before. So again, look for a track record that proves they can do what they say they can do.

Another unproductive collaboration opportunity is when somebody does exactly what you do. OK. And I see this a lot. So for example, it would be like another women’s leadership coach wanting to collaborate on an event with me and I would argue that that probably isn’t going to be an effective collaboration in my books. In my view I would be looking to collaborate with somebody who brings something different.

So for instance I would be looking to collaborate with people, let’s say, who focus on voice and on voice skills and voice training so that we as women can be even stronger presenters.

Okay so it’s related to what I do but it’s not exactly what I do. Another sign of an unproductive partnership or collaboration is that in order to collaborate with this person you have to create something totally new that you’re not already doing, that you’re not already selling. That is called a squirrel ladies. So if you have to chase a squirrel in order to collaborate with someone that is a sign it’s a waste of time.

If your goals aren’t in alignment, if your roles are unclear and if you feel that you may be ceding control of your brand or certain things are very important to you. These are all signs that it is an unproductive collaboration and the most strategic move for you is to say no or to bow out of it.

So I told you that at the end of this episode I was going to share a little bit of insight into how it is that I enter into and make decisions about collaboration.

So we recently partnered with an organization called Women Get On Board. It’s founded by a lovely friend and colleague Deborah Rosati. And this is an organization that helps and supports powerhouse women leaders to get the education and support and access that they need to find board seats inside paying organizations, like compensated board seats, as well as a nonprofit board seats which typically are not compensated. So it’s a terrific organization.

And the beauty of it is that for my people it really offers them a next step and a very practical addition to the skills that we teach inside The Leadership Lab and inside our events and programs. OK so we teach influencing skills, strategic networking skills, confidence building presentation skills, how to hold your own around a boardroom table and so you can see that it’s a great wonderful next step for them to to move into board roles. That’s why this collaboration makes sense from Deborah Rosati’s perspective, Women Get On Board provides access, support, you know, specific training on how to get board seats. So what we offer is in alignment because a lot of the skill sets that we teach are exactly the kind of skill sets that those women need to be a strong voice at the boardroom table. OK.

So you can see that I have an asset. Women get on board has an asset, and that’s why they work together well. Both are proven business models, both are proven organizations led by women who have a track record in what they do. It’s the right kind of collaboration. The kinds of collaboration requests that we typically turn down have all the hallmarks of what I just shared with you about.

So either I have to create something entirely new in order to be able to participate. The person does exactly what I do. Or it’s a totally unproven business model by a person who does not have a track of doing what they want to enter into the collaboration on, and it seems like common sense but I see women pressured to say yes to these types of collaborations all the time.

So the bottom line here ladies is stay focused on you and what you do. Look for opportunities to collaborate that are of strategic benefit to you. There is a clear articulated Win-Win and you are entering into a collaboration with somebody who has true assets that you can leverage and vice versa. It is OK to say no, to be strategic, to bow out of over commitments. It is okay to do all of those things. You have permission and in fact your next level of success has so much more to do with what you say no to than to what you say yes to.

So, for more on this… If what I have said in this podcast episode makes a ton of sense to you and you want more. Head on over to This is a on fire document that we pulled together. It’s a brief 5 page report. It’s not going to take you hours to read, but what it does is it takes you through five lessons powerhouse women leaders had to unlearn to unlock their ultimate presence power and potential.

All right ladies have an excellent rest of the day wherever you are thank you so much for joining in. And listen, if you know of a woman who could really benefit from hearing this episode please share it with her. This is a free resource that we put out into the world to provide women with inspiration, tools and a little bit of attitude to get out there and crush it. Thanks so much for listening. And until next time. Stay fierce.


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