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The Importance of Collaborative Leadership

Whenever an organization is hit with a crisis, whether it is external (like a pandemic) or internal (like record turnover), recovery often depends on how effectively teams can combine the potential of their people. As a recent pulse survey from PwC shows, with 48% of organizations having an initiative to lower dependence on institutional knowledge over the next 12 months, most leaders can agree that collaboration and connectivity are more vital than ever in a turbulent environment like today.

The foundational idea behind encouraging your teams to work collaboratively is that it benefits an organization by way of greater creativity and the forming of stronger relationships. Collaborative leadership, in a step further, is the practice in which leaders work together across their departments/teams to make decisions and accomplish shared organizational goals. By doing so, organizations can build a culture of inclusivity, effective communication, and respect while simultaneously reaching business objectives.

With most companies already investing in technology to have broader and more seamless access, digital connectivity tools have set the stage (and employee appetite) for increased transparency and organizational-wide collaboration. But –

Is your organization and leadership team ready to approach a style of collaborative leadership?

Below are questions one can ask:

Do we have tools in place for collaboration?

  • Organization-wide collaboration often requires digital tools to help facilitate it. Whether it is to track the progress of an annual goal or to edit in real-time a staff memo, having proper technology helps to remove the unnecessary friction and helps to expedite otherwise tedious processes.

Are we willing to share our knowledge (and credit our success) with each other?

  • Teamwork, in general, is often more enjoyable when individuals can lean on each other’s strengths while leaving their egos at the door. Achieving a common goal is shared success; no one department or individual’s contribution is greater than the other.

Is our organization logically divided?

  • When setting up organizational-wide goals, it is also a good opportunity to assess if the current team set-ups make sense. For example, is there an opportunity to combine, re-assign or re-design teams or managers? A more intentional structure will help when aligning the departmental, team, and individual goals to those of the organization.

How will we share accountability?

  • Shared success also means sharing (and learning from) failures together. To avoid what could turn into a blame game, leaders can take this as an opportunity to build trust by being transparent with any anticipated shortcomings. In addition, to share the accountability, leadership team members can assign distinct roles to one another (such as a meeting notes taker, goals progress tracker, etc.) to help stay on course.

Once organizations are structurally poised and are committed to demonstrating Collaborative Leadership, teams can start with (or enhance):

Building trust: To work together, individuals should trust one another (Do I find this person reliable? Honest? Ethical?)

  • When Leaders hold themselves accountable, it emphasizes the value of open and honest communication while also demonstrating that it is okay to take risks (supporting the psychological safety of your employees).

  • Another example of how to build trust amongst peer groups is by actively communicating and sharing the successes of your team members. Competency is often demonstrated by tactical excellence, and knowing what other team members are winning can help build an understanding of their strengths.

Promoting diversity: Innovation is often ushered by the cross-pollination of ideas.

  • In addition to the type of diversity that is optical, blurring experience gaps can also help produce creative results while providing an excellent opportunity to build trust among managers and employees. Inviting team members at different levels of your organization demonstrates that everybody’s opinion is valued and sends a message that decisions are representative of and valued at every level.

  • Identifying and Opening Up Silos: A ‘silo’ is a mindset by which departments do not share information – often leading to power struggles and a lack of cooperation.

    • This type of operating model does not support organizational collaboration. Below are some ways for departmental Leaders to demonstrate Collaborative Leadership:

§ Set unifying goals;

§ Enable access to information;

§ Actively listening (to connect ideas and goals);

§ Promote a reward structure based on collective success.

As internal and external factors continue to drive inflection points in an organization, Leaders can utilize their team’s collective skills and knowledge to create outcomes where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By taking an inclusive approach that recognizes the value of diverse perspectives and is rooted in trust, teams can continue to thrive through staff support and innovation.

If you have any questions on more ways to put into practice Collaborative Leadership or would like to connect on innovative ideas, please reach out to Kiwi Partners' HR Services.


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