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The Rise of Collaborative Leadership

The collaborative approach to leading teams is best suited for today’s complex workplace, where newer, less-defined problems need agile solutions. Through collaborative leadership, executives can create an inclusive environment that energises teams, releases creativity, and cultivates a company culture that is both productive and joyful where information is exchanged organically, and everyone takes responsibility for the whole.

01 February 2022 • 4 min read

Collaborative leadership is based on the premise of harnessing collective intelligence to solve complex problems and drive innovation. Collaborative leaders step firmly away from the top-down, command-and-control style of management, encouraging knowledge sharing and decision-making within their team, crushing silos and building up their people in the process.

This teamwork-oriented style of leadership supports cultural transformation since everyone shares information and collaborates daily, nourishing their skills and allowing them to grow and evolve. However, for collaborative leadership to succeed in the business, it must be reinforced and revisited, expectations and ambitions must be clear. And leaders must continue to grow as individuals, refining how they support their staff.

My recent experiences have shown that collaborative leadership significantly accelerates the organisation’s culture, communication and employee engagement. With the disruptive environment we live in, a collaborative approach to leading teams and organisations could help businesses overcome some of their most difficult challenges.

Here are some practical ways in which leaders can promote a culture of collaboration and help their organisations behave more intelligently.

Nurture diversity

Collaborative executives constantly seek out a diversity of viewpoints and ideas among teammates while developing strategies and solving problems. As a result, employees are more engaged, feel more trusted, and are more willing to take responsibility for their work.

Leaders provide energy throughout the ecosystem by fostering connections.

Play the role of connector and catalyst

Connectors are essential facilitators of collaboration in the workplace. Leaders provide energy throughout the ecosystem by fostering connections across the organisation, assisting others in connecting, and linking teams, people, ideas and resources.

Engage talent and foster cross-functional collaboration

Diverse teams, when well-led, consistently achieve more significant results. Consequently, leaders must bring people together from various backgrounds, disciplines, cultures, and generations and leverage everything they have to contribute. Cross-functional teamwork relies on this.

Keep communication lines open

Collaboration requires an organisation’s entire workforce to adopt open communication techniques. Begin by training employees in the specific skills needed for cooperation, such as appreciating people, having purposeful dialogues, and modelling such behaviour. Leave your door open and invite them to come to you with problems.

Leverage your organisation’s collective intelligence

Leaders can make better decisions by using the entirety of their organisation’s intelligence. Collaborative intelligence enables more productive, orderly, and engaging discourse on the most pressing challenges and decisions. The goal is to help people gain a more holistic view of challenges, which will lead to new perspectives and better ideas.

While making the decision to move away from command-and-control is a crucial first step, change requires time and work. The following tactics have shown to be successful in helping our organisation in Romania migrate to a more collaborative mindset.

  • Embrace the collaborative leadership model in which executives shift from having all the answers to identifying the most relevant questions.

  • Focus the organisational culture on all-around strategy based on the 3C synergy– the client, the colleague and the company. Establish alignment, think and work in an agile way and build an environment that nurtures collaboration and a positive climate that fosters personal development.

Use the right digital tools for the job

With the growing number of digital solutions available, choosing the most appropriate technologies to aid people’s decision-making is critical. Colleagues from various parts of the business can easily communicate whenever they need aid or assistance in addressing an issue or completing a project, thanks to several tools (Microsoft Teams, Slack, Skype and Zoom to name a few) that make cross-functional collaboration easier.

Make decisions based on data

Thanks to digitisation and big data, organisations no longer have to count on intuition and guesswork in decision-making. All of the data relevant to your business operations and the smart tools you can use to extract essential insights are now available in a digital format.

Value more individual abilities and strengths

“We don’t need heroes; we need radical interdependence,” says Lorna Davis, a business executive and leadership coach in a recent TED Talk.

Contributions to debate should be measured and recognised. Leaders must establish an environment in which successful deliberation improves employee engagement and motivation and a sense that employees’ opinions are respected and translated into swift and decisive action.

Show a strong hand

When leaders encourage people to collaborate, they run into a new issue: overdoing it. Too often, people want to collaborate on everything and end up in lengthy meetings, disputing ideas and unable to reach an agreement. They find they can’t make timely decisions and implement them. Collaboration becomes the sand that grinds the wheel to a standstill rather than the oil that greases it.

Collaborative efforts are fluid and do not exist in silos.

Influential collaborative leaders play a significant impact in team direction. They keep their flexibility by establishing and disbanding teams when opportunities arise. Collaborative efforts are fluid and do not exist in silos inside companies.

Increase the collaborative capacity of the organisation

For mobilising intelligence throughout the organisation, networks – which are most often built on strong, trustworthy connections – are critical. They make effective use of complicated knowledge, encourage people to use their unique skills and abilities in ways that contribute to the overall success of the organisation and encourage creativity via the contributions of many.

Today’s leaders must be able to draw on ideas, people and resources from all around the world. This necessitates a rethinking of their talent strategy and the development of strong internal and external partnerships. To encourage all of the various stakeholders to cooperate effectively, they must recognise when to use influence rather than authority to move things forward and when to put an end to ineffective debates, squash politicking and make final decisions.

The collaborative approach to team management is ideal for today’s increasingly complicated workplace, where newer, less-defined problems necessitate quick responses.

Collaboration efforts are inevitably complicated by differences in convictions, cultural values, and operational conventions. But diverse opinions do, however, enrich, innovate and bring value to those efforts. Collaborative leadership is all about getting that value.

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