More so today than at any other time in history, businesses that foster a collaborative environment are winning the race to competitive advantage. In fact, the evolution to a flatter, less hierarchical structure can be seen at all levels of society:
- Families are more likely to have a family meeting to decide upon important issues than to toe the line as dictated by the ‘head of the family’
- Increasingly, people are helping to formulate discussion in government through online petitions
- Even in the publishing world, the growth of self-publishing and e-readers has empowered people to choose what to read rather than be told what to read by big publishing houses
The benefits of a collaborative leadership approach
A more collaborative approach to leadership in the organizational environment has a number of advantages and benefits, including:
- With decision-making jointly owned, so too is the organization. This sense of ownership encourages greater commitment to the common goal
- Greater willingness to accept responsibility
- A more open and honest environment where ideas and views are discussed freely
- Greater flow of ideas and information producing more informed decision-making and comprehensive solutions
- Better teamwork across the entire organization with elimination of internal destructive competitiveness
- Leaders of the future are more easily identified from within, reducing cost and ensuring leadership continuity
In an environment of collaborative leadership, organizational change is more easily affected and creates a more caring business. However, shifting to an organizational philosophy that benefits from all the advantages of the collaborative leadership approach takes time and effort. You may also find some resistance (some people may be resentful at the ‘delegation of leadership duties’). Collaborative leaders will need to be adept at conflict resolution (care-fronting instead of confronting, for example) to arrive at solutions acceptable to all.
So, just how do you reset your organization for collaborative leadership? Here are seven tips to build an environment of collaborative leadership approach in your organization:
1. Build a bridge of trust
Without trust the collaborative leadership approach will fail. This is the first area in which the leader must lead. Trust is a two-way street, and people who are trusted tend to trust. Encourage your leaders to have trust in their people.
2. Encourage the adoption of a shared purpose
Leaders no longer lead by command and control. Instead they encourage the adoption of shared values and visions as a motivator of performance. The collaborative leader communicates the future vision through commitment to it. He or she is passionate about the organization’s values and mission and that passion permeates across a flatter organizational structure.
3. Develop diversity
Collaborative leadership encourages everyone to participate in problem solving, and these diverse teams produce more meaningful and long-lasting solutions to problems. The collaborative organization benefits from a range of views, skills, experience, and ideas from people working toward the common goal.
4. Accept and encourage initiative
Leaders show initiative, and encouraging ownership of problems and their solutions is to encourage initiative. Accept that people should take calculated risks. Encourage creativity and self-improvement. People want to make their jobs as easy as possible. Accept that a degree of risk-taking is necessary to drive change for the better.
5. Be information sharers, not information hoarders
Flatten the hierarchy by sharing information across all organizational functionalities. Involve people with information and you encourage ownership and collaboration. Your organization will become more adept at change and better at decision-making. Information is no longer power, but rather a tool of inspirational leadership. Share information and you build trust, openness, and honesty.
6. Create transparency in decision-making
Collaborative leadership requires the sharing of information and responsibility. This empowers an organization’s people to contribute to the decision-making process. Collaborative decision-making leads to commitment to implement discovered solutions. Less time is wasted in conflict management, and more energy is focused on understanding the challenges that influence the business. Transparency of decision making leads to buy-in and acceptance of responsibility for effectiveness of solutions.
7. Understand that conflict can be constructive
Diversity will inevitably lead to conflict. Create an environment where constructive conflict is accepted as part of the decision-making process. This conflict must be managed, and will then inevitably lead to greater insight as feedback is sought and given. Constructive conflict will aid creativity, innovation, and problem solving.
For details of the Forward Focus Management Development Series contact us today and discover how collaborative leadership will drive your competitive advantage through 21st century.