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Becoming a Collaborative Leader – The Key to Success

Becoming a Collaborative Leader – The Key to Success

Collaborative leadership is more than just practicing cooperation at the workplace. It is about leading towards a collective outcome that makes it possible for all key stakeholders to succeed. Collaborative-minded leaders view the collaboration itself as a process that is critical to align the direction, people, and the practices towards the achievement of common goals. Collaborative leaders engage others to work together with ownership and commitment for a common outcome.

In the current VUCA environment (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity), it is impossible for any one single manager to get things done. In this dynamic business environment, leaders know that they don’t have all the answers and they need to engage the others through collaboration to be in control of the situations.

The traditional autocratic and managerial leadership styles are no longer suited to the current business environment. It is the collaborative leadership with dimensions of democratic leadership that is going to help businesses survive and grow. While the autocratic and managerial style of leaders focus on keeping the power and control with them to get things done, the collaborative leaders are willing to let go of the power and control, and yet get things done far more effectively.

The essentials of collaborative leadership includes mastery of collaboration practices that focus on relationship management and effective communication skills. Collaborative leaders display a high degree of integrity, and focus their energy and efforts in building and sustaining trust across workplace departments.

Collaborative leaders who lead organizations have certain unique characteristics such as:

  • They collaborate across all aspects of the organization
  • They believe that collaboration benefits everyone
  • They engage everyone by listening to the ideas and concerns of all employees

Collaborative leaders recognize the benefits of this approach and the advantages are many, including the following:

  • Greater access to more ideas and information
  • Opportunity to achieve sustainable results
  • Greater buy-in from stakeholders
  • Possibility of creating and sustaining a community of collaborators in the workplace
  • Maximization of resources and financial savings
  • Improved and better products and services
  • Access to niche skill sets that exist in the organization

Collaborative leaders demonstrate a number of relationship management skills such as listening without judging, encouraging & enabling participation from others, and showing empathy when interacting with others. They are able to ask questions aimed at solving problems and accepting diverse views, while seeking agreement.

Carol Kinsey Goman, in her article titled 8 Tips for Collaborative Leadership, recommends that one needs to adopt the following tips as part of collaborative leadership:

  • Recognize that silos can kill your business
  • Build your strategy around human issues
  • Treat collaboration as a change strategy
  • Engage the team when developing the vision
  • Engage diversity when managing problems
  • Help people develop relationships
  • Build trust
  • Pay attention to your body language

Effective managers, as collaborative leaders, share information and their experience with their team and other stakeholders, while encouraging suggestions and ideas to improve all aspects of collaboration in the work place. You can learn to become a collaborative leader by knowing your strengths and getting prepared to make a difference. Mastering the skills that will help in creating and sustaining a collaborative relationship is the key to becoming an effective collaborative leader.

Reprinted with the permission of Arul John Peter, co-owner of Centre for Creative Thinking, a training agency based in Singapore www.creativityasia.com that facilitates training workshops on creativity and related soft skills for clients in Asia and the Middle East.  As a Certified LEGO® Serious Play® Approach Facilitator, he integrates the LEGO® Serious Play® in his seminar to bring out the best in people. John facilitates management seminars and workshops in the areas of Managerial Skills for Better Results, Creative Thinking, Personal Mastery for Great Performance, EQ Skills for Team Leaders. John holds an MBA and majored in strategic human resource management. He is a member of the American Society for Training & Development and Singapore Institute of Management.

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