Collaborative leadership is a move from Top Down to a People Centric sort of leadership.  Being collaborative assumes that the people who would traditionally have been working under you, become your partners in the workplace.  Sure they still report to you, but since in a collaborative world of high trust everyone has something to offer, there is no need for heirachy.

In the Collaborative leadership model, the Leader is the coordinator of action, there to help, develop and support the team, who, in turn, help support the Leader.  Everyone is trusted for their contribution, and valued for their input.

Collaborative teams are very natural outside of the workplace.  Recently we all became extremely collaborative as we were asked to shut the entire country down with 48 hours notice.  People took action, scrambling to look after their family, moving loved ones across the towns so they could lockdown together.  Others jumped into action, policing the roads in Northland for the purpose of ensuring there were no unauthorised, or potentially sick people bringing the Covid19 Virus to their vulnerable region.  No one needed a boss.  They knew what to do.

The Mark of a Collaborative Leader

A Collaborative Leader understands that there is no place for the Command and control style of old.  They are open and free with information, preferring to be transparent, for the purpose of sharing information that will move projects and work forward.

Collaborative Leadership is about balancing the motivations of their people with the Context of the environment, having a keen eye on the interdependencies of other teams, clients etc, and ensuring everyone is held accountable.  The Leader will have strong networks, and is able to have difficult conversations with the right tone and purpose.

Why Collaborative Leadership?

People want to do their best work no matter what they do.  Often the things that may stifle that creativity and additional effort is unnecessary focus on power, control and driving behaviours.  Driving behaviours in some industries, particularly where health and safety are necessary can be wholly appropriate, so let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, however unless you inadvertently hired a team of lazy unmotivated lay abouts, even then a collaborative team will create, form and run a Health and Safety team within its ranks.

Collaboration is Bottom Line driven

Collaboration creates an inclusive environment, where people have a sense of purpose.  This gives life to ownership and results in higher engagement, leading in turn to increased productivity.  A collaborative team often speaks of being in a family, where everyone is important and their input is valued.  They feel a sense of pride in the work they do and that results in better customer experiences, feedback and more business.

The Traits of a Collaborative Leader

A Collaborative Leader is one who is confident to make decisions, while open to the ideas of others.  This installs trust in the people they work with.  In addition, they are able to Empathise with their people while holding them accountable for results.  Being open to feedback, opens the mind, allowing a broader perspective, which results in a level of comfort when taking risks.  The Collaborative Leader doesn’t do everything for their people, but rather works in a mutually beneficial relationship and is easily able to communicate ideas and concepts in a way that gets heard, but allows others to be heard also.

Not everyone naturally has the traits of a Collaborative Leader and the downfall can be experienced by all as controlling, overly helpful, uncommunicative and uncertain.  People love to have a leader who they can trust.  It goes both ways. Going forward where businesses may well have smaller teams for the foreseeable future, consider harnessing the power of collaboration.