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To Educate and Engage, The Keyword is Collaboration

A collaborative management style includes all team members in a joint effort toward a common goal. Instead of traditional instructional and control leadership, employees are encouraged to participate in brainstorming, problem-solving, and ideation. 

Organizations that employ a collaborative approach profit in the modern workplace. They benefit from highly integrated and productive teams, and lower staff turnover. Employees are more highly motivated. They take control of their own professional education, and become engaged within the non-hierarchical structure. Gone is the leader with overarching control. Secrecy is replaced by transparency. Dictatorship is eliminated by teamwork. 

For those not used to employing a collaborative approach to team management, a shock may be the conflict that is inherent in the flattened hierarchy. People, encouraged to participate in problem-solving and identifying opportunities, will express different perspectives. The collaborative leader will encourage open discussion, and use healthy conflict to explore options and arrive at a jointly agreed path forward.

In this article, we explore seven leadership strategies employed by the collaborative leader. These strategies help to break down the barriers evident in traditional hierarchies, and encourage employees to seek educational opportunities as they engage with organizational beliefs and values.

1. Transparency

In the traditional leadership model, organizational decisions and business strategies are cloaked in secrecy. Plans are shared on a strictly need-to-know basis. The collaborative leader shares information with his or her people. This encourages discussion and contribution of ideas to improve problem-solving, processes and procedures.

2. Flexibility

Gone is the ‘my way or the highway’ approach to management. Collaboration requires flexibility to listen to other points of view, accept weaknesses, and employ people for their strengths when the occasion requires. This naturally engenders a more fluid organization, with the traditional hierarchy replaced by a flatter, horizontal structure.

3. Open to risk-taking

The traditional management style inhibits risk-taking and innovation. It limits the opportunity for employees to seek self-development opportunities. People are not encouraged to take risks, but instead controlled to follow the tried and tested. In a collaborative organization, people are encouraged to solve problems and seek better ways to do things. The leader trusts them to form ideas and discover solutions, in an open and honest working environment. This helps set the tone for personal growth, and improves innovation and creativity.

4. Compassionate communication

Collaborative leaders are highly-effective communicators. They consciously communicate with their people, understanding that the art of communication is listening to what is being said. They allow employees to express themselves, and use compassion to replace fear and concern by hope and trust. 

5. Encouraging constructive conflict

Collaborative leaders understand that encouraging people to voice opinions and ideas is likely to lead to conflict. This is integral to innovation, measured risk-taking, and creative problem-solving. Just as conflict is integral to these processes, conflict handling is integral to embedding collaboration within the workplace. The collaborative leader will solve communication breakdown by employing a carefronting, not confronting, strategy.

6. There is no ‘I’ in team

The collaborative leader believes that the value of the team is greater than the sum of its parts. There is no place for an authoritarian approach, but rather the encouragement of feedback, discussion and exploration of ideas from individuals within the team that leads to an agreed strategic plan.

7. Networking

Collaborative leaders are great at building networks, and invest in personal relationships. Contacts can then be called upon to strengthen teams and advance projects.

A collaborative culture is built through the creation of an open and honest environment, where transparency and trust are keystones of a flatter organizational structure. Leaders inspire their people by showing passion and commitment, toward the business and their people. As the collaborative culture blossoms, so too will employee engagement.

Our Executive and Leadership Coaching programs are designed to develop executive capabilities, building across these essential leadership behaviors:

  • Communication
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Influencing
  • Listening skills
  • Negotiation skills

Contact Forward Focus today to discover more, and begin the journey toward a fully empowered and engaged workforce.

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