Top Tips for Collaborative Leadership

The 21st century has already seen some significant changes in the way we live and do business. When it comes to business management and leadership, the key change is that “command and control” management has been replaced by collaborative leadership.

Letting go of control, focusing on nurturing talent and creating proactive teams are the key elements defining the successful leader of the 21st century.

One thing is clear, looking at the organizational structures and corporate cultures across the most successful companies: the age of the absolute leader who rules over everyone and everything with an iron fist is gone. Letting go of control, focusing on nurturing talent and creating proactive teams are the key elements defining the successful leader of the 21st century.

But what does collaborative leadership really mean? These are only a few key considerations:

1. Abandon the Silo Mentality

Just a few years ago, various departments across the same company jealously guarded their findings and breakthroughs. It was a breakneck race between sales and marketing, between R&D and market prospecting, and nobody saw that the ultimate goal was the same for everyone: success, a greater market share and more profits.

Today, every department is on board with what everyone else is doing, what they discover and the key figures from financial projections to imminent changes in legislation affecting the business. But this openness and collaborative spirit must start from the top manager.

2. Nurture Trust

Trust does not happen overnight. It is not created in the weekly or bi-monthly internal meetings. It is something which is being built every day, nurtured by the attitude and personal example set by the leader. Leaders who fail to communicate efficiently, who leave team leaders and employees out of the loop, are preparing the grounds for two destructive attitudes: fear to take accountability, and lack of motivation and initiative.

When employees see accountability as a potential axe hanging above their heads, ready to strike at the smallest mistake, this indicates a severe lack of trust. A collaborative-minded leader will never allow such a mentality to appear and grow in their organizations.

Leaders who fail to communicate efficiently, who leave team leaders and employees out of the loop, are preparing the grounds for two destructive attitudes: fear to take accountability, and lack of motivation and initiative.

3. Encourage Risk Taking

This principle is connected to the one above. Nurturing trust goes hand in hand with allowing people to take risks and make provisions for certain errors and failures which can be corrected. When no one risks, no one wins. Collaborative leadership means accepting that no one is perfect, but that the team as a whole can win more by supporting others to take initiative than to hush them up for fear of retribution.

4. Mediate Conflicts

As a leader, your role is to be impartial and to mediate conflicts. Being fair and unbiased is a must.

Conflicts at work are inevitable. Your team is made up of people with different personalities, backgrounds, ambitions and expectations. Sometimes their ambitions clash and this is potentially fertile ground for ruining team morale.

As a leader, your role is to be impartial and to mediate conflicts. Being fair and unbiased is a must. Your employees look up to you and take the cue from your decisions and your behavior. Favoritism is just as bad as too strict discipline enforcement. Make sure you eliminate both from your decision making in such situations.

5. Use Collaborative Thinking to Promote Change

Collaborative leadership is key to implementing change across the company. It does not happen just because you said so. People are more or less resistant to change and your role is to bring them together, level the differences of opinion between them, and make them see and follow the path towards success.


This article was originally published on PLDx.org.