The term leadership has certainly been redefined over last decade. Leadership demands a skill set that has been separated from the title of manager. A leader is a person who directs, guides and influences the behaviour of his followers towards the attainment of specific goals.
A manager is a representative of the organisation responsible for the management of the work of a group of employees and takes requisite actions whenever required.
Collaborative leadership is a process by which an individual influences, supports and guides a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.
‘Collaborative Leaders’ understand that they are vital to helping others find their leadership capabilities. They create environments where even small acts of leadership can come from anyone in the room at any time. They acknowledge and reward this consistently. Collabortive leaders elevate the effort and work of others.
There is huge benefits from the act of elevating the efforts and work of others. Who would you rather work for? A manager who hands down tasks or a leader who outlines a challenge and allows you to rally the support to tackle it? A manager who tells you when and how it needs to be done or a leader who recognises your strengths and abilities and is there to guide a support you to discover your on path through the many possible solutions.
What you need for collaborative leadership
Collaboration in and of itself demands effective communication, teamwork, and a willingness to compromise. In order for collaborative leadership to be effective, it is important for the leader to be able to communicate their vision and goals to the team.
The leader must also be able to work with the team to identify the best way to achieve the common goal and the best way to do that is by uniting them with a grander vision and purpose.
Too often leaders assume everyone is aware of where the organisation is heading and the operational objectives. However, this is one of the main roles of the Collaborative Leader. It’s to help teams connect the dots of what they do and how that fits in with the overall vision as well as the importance of the impact they can make.
If leaders get to the point of sounding like a broken record then you’re probably only JUST saying it enough. Never assume people are having these conversations without you.
Finally, the greatest thing about true collaborative leaders is they must be willing to compromise and be open to the idea that their point of view might be wrong. Remember the team are the ones closer to the work, closer to the client and closer to the project. If the team are equipped with an experimental mindset and tools to validate assumptions the leader must be comfortable playing a supportive role and hearing out the findings.
Benefits of Collaborative Leadership
So how can collaborative leadership help?
Some of the key benefits of collaborative leadership are improved communication, increased creativity, better decision-making, and increased productivity.
Improved communication: Collaborative leadership can help improve communication by fostering an environment where people feel comfortable sharing ideas and opinions. This can lead to better decision-making as well as increased creativity.
Increased creativity: Collaborative leadership can help increase creativity by encouraging people to share their ideas and think outside the box.
Increased productivity: The mere act of collecting different perspectives and points of view means that your solution will be more robust and much more well formed than if it were coming from the view of one. The act of allowing people to have input into solutions means they are more likely to take ownership and accountability and want to pitch in. There becomes some excitement to see it come to life.
The Challenges of Collaborative Leadership
There are also challenges associated with collaborative leadership. These challenges include a need for effective communication, a willingness to compromise, and the ability to work well with others.
Some of the challenges of collaborative leadership include:
- Ensuring that everyone is on the same page and understands the goals of the project (that includes being very clear yourself)
- Making sure that everyone feels heard and respected
- Being willing to compromise when necessary
- Being able to create a safe space and build trust
How to overcome the challenges of collaborative leadership
There are a few ways to overcome the challenges of collaborative leadership. One way is to improve communication skills. Another way is to learn to compromise. Finally, it is important to defer judgement.
Improve communication skills: One way to overcome the challenges of collaborative leadership is to improve communication skills. This means being able to effectively communicate with others, and being able to understand their perspectives.
Be clear and embrace the concept of Radical Candor when delivering feedback to teams.
Learn to compromise: Another way to overcome the challenges of collaborative leadership is to learn to compromise. This means being willing to give and take, and to find solutions that are acceptable to everyone involved.
Defer judgement: Too often we think we are helping teams progress by shutting ideas down stating we’ve tried that before or that’s not within our budget. We think its giving them a short cut. It’s not. It’s simply telling them their ideas aren’t good enough and it leaves little inspiration in the room and starves the room of oxygen for any new ideas coming forward. You’ll find ideas dry up and individuals confidence in coming up with anything new will have dwindles.
Instead, help teams identify the obstacles that exist and let them find creative ways around it.
Collaborative leadership is a type of leadership that involves working with others to achieve a common goal. This type of leadership has many benefits, such as improved communication and problem-solving skills. However, there are also challenges associated with this type of leadership. These challenges can include difficulty reaching consensus, disagreements among team members, and feelings of competition. These challenges can be overcome by improving communication skills, learning to compromise, and deferring the judgement of ideas.
Collaborative leadership involves recognising the human elements to work.
It involves the ability to let go of the ‘expert mindset’ where you have all the answers and instead elevate the work and efforts of others.
You’ll get more ideas and because they came from the people implementing change and guess what? It will mean that the roll out of ideas and productivity will take a spike.
This article was written by Olivia O’Connor from Liv By Design and founder of ‘The Collaboration Project’. If you’d like to look at ways to improve your organisations customer experience or employee experience, let’s chat.
Would you like to drive collaboration at your organisation? Not sure where to start?…. Check out The Collaboration Project it provides the ‘how’ behind driving a collaborative culture and will upskill your team in a few short weeks!