Collaborate Leadership: A Path to Business Success?
Taking a look at a different management concept
Traditional views on management and leadership have been changing rapidly as advanced connectivity and communication technologies have enabled more collaboration within the workplace.
The concept of collaborative leadership suggests that the traditional “command and control” management style can sometimes fail to maximize the potential of a collaborative workforce. The collaborative approach, on the other hand, looks beyond siloed working environments.
What is collaborative leadership?
Many articles on collaborative leadership focus on the characteristics of leadership, yet fail to clearly describe how to be an effective leader. The concept is simple: A leader is an individual who brings people and resources together to achieve a common goal. A leader is not position-biased; for example, managers can achieve their goals effectively without being extraordinary leaders.
Leading from a management position provides a level of much-desired authority that is naturally associated with the term leadership, but in truth, any member of a team can act as a leader.
Effective collaborative leaders work diligently to understand and develop connections between people, systems and ideas. Not only do collaborative leaders bring together their own team members, but they will actively seek out opportunities to work with people outside their group.
These types of leaders are skilled in bringing the right mix of people, skills and experiences together to resolve a problem. They are not possessive over their team members, information or equipment, but understand they are instruments of action. They may have the final word on any decision, but they seek out the thoughts of their team as well as other teams to determine the appropriate conclusion.
Collaborative leaders are transparent in their decision-making, ensuring that everyone understands the reasoning behind the decision and has the same access to the same data that was used to make the decision.
How can collaborative leaders be developed?
1. Expand scope of influence
Collaborative leaders are big-picture thinkers who see how every job, every customer, every skill and talent plays a central part in success. They actively seek to build relationships, encourage personal development and work closely with multiple groups to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the company. Traditionally, companies are built with several layers of management. Collaborative leadership will attempt to reduce these management layers and build a flat organization with more reports to each manager. This approach increases knowledge sharing, reduces the time required to make critical decisions, and increases morale.
2. Increase stakeholders
Most people consider visions or goals as top-down directives from executives. While the executive may have the final say, collaborative leaders will encourage customers, partners and employees to provide input into the vision. They will garner information over time to identify necessary changes. In short, everyone becomes a participant in creating the vision and, as a result, they have a stake in ensuring its fulfillment.
3. Assemble diverse teams
It’s a natural tendency for managers to surround themselves with the best people who have similar mindsets, skills and goals as one another. Collaborative leaders understand the importance of diversity and surround themselves with people who have diverse backgrounds, responsibilities, opinions and experiences. This level of diversity enables the team to consider perspectives and opportunities, which would be ignored in a traditional management team.
4. Build relationships
Collaborative leaders build relationships and assist their team in doing the same. A collaborative team gets to know each other, holds one another accountable, supports decisions and aids one another in solving problems. Building relationships requires building trust, and that begins with the leaders. Making and keeping commitments—even small ones—goes far when creating a trusting environment. Collaborative leaders strive for consistency, integrity and honesty. Another way of building trust is to provide undivided, open attention to every interaction. This includes: Body language that communicates acceptance, an inviting, personable attitude, focusing on the task or person and refraining from multi-tasking and making eye contact with people who are speaking.
5. Be encouraging
Collaborative leaders support their team members in taking risks, which leads to greater creativity, innovation, learning and growth. During discussions, collaborative leaders ask questions for the purpose of understanding, knowing that effective questioning will engage people in conversations of value. They listen before making judgment, and encourage all members of the team to participate in discussions, brainstorms and decision-making.