I like to talk about collegiality - the art being collegial with ones colleagues. But what does that really mean? and why are colleagues so important? The Free Online Dictionary just told me that the term "colleague" refers to people who work together in the same profession - no duh! The term comes from the French where it refers to people who are chosen together - as if they were picked at the same time to be on the same team. I think that may begin to put some more meat on the bones of this term...but let me try to take it a little bit deeper.
When I consider the term "colleague" I think more about the type of relationship that is built between the people who are chosen to be on the same team. This is not just someone who works with me...this is someone who works WITH me - and whom I work WITH. To have a colleague is to have a trusted partner - one who is willing to work hard to accomplish the task to which all of us are called together. This is a person who has similar goals...similar outlooks on life...similar aspirations...similar views of the world...and a similar work ethic. This is someone who respects me...who respects other team members...who respects the mission of the institution...and who respects the idea of what it means to be a team. This person is willing to sacrifice self for the team...is willing to be open and honest...is willing to do the hard work needed...is willing to stand up for what is right...is willing to speak truth to power...is willing to take a bullet for the team (and other team members).
All that being said, I also believe a great colleague is one who is a strong individual...who has a strong opinion and is willing to share it...who stands up for what they believe is right...who is striving to move ahead in their lives...who wants to be recognized for their hard work...who sees the world different from me...who has different goals than me...who is a maverick...who is an innovator...who is ahead of the curve...who believes there is more to the world than just this one institution...who has a global vision...who can sometimes even be a pain to the rest of the group.
And finally, I believe that a great colleague is one who is able to recognize the paradox of what it means to be a great colleague and, when slipping on either side of the slope, is willing to ask for forgiveness from the team; and also, in recognizing that paradox, is able to render forgiveness to me when I slip on either side of the slope. Maybe that's the key to collegiality...that the art of being collegial with colleagues is the art of giving and receiving forgiveness...over and over again.