What's a Collaborative Leadership Style and Why Does it Matter?

Posted by Susan Cullen on October 2, 2018

Leadership Development - Collaborative Leadership StyleIn the past, it was acceptable for the manager to give orders to workers without any input. The top executives and managers were in charge, and employees were supposed to blindly follow along. Leadership development in those days was more about learning how to tell people what to do than listening and working with others. These days, leaders must be willing to collaborate with their teams and build trusting relationships in order to accomplish organizational goals. Those with collaborative leadership skills benefit not only themselves, but also their teams and the company that they work for.

Collaborative Leadership Defined

Perhaps the best description of collaborative leadership is simply that is a technique for getting results through the use of collective intelligence. Those that subscribe to this process believe that a group holds more intelligence than a single person. Collaborative leaders rely upon their ability to influence others and encourage input, to guide their team towards success. Instead of creating a competitive workplace, they cultivate an environment of mutual respect, trust, and shared aspirations.

Collaborative Leadership Advantages

Collaboration in the workplace among peers has many advantages, including improved teamwork, morale, and accountability. This mindset not only benefits leaders and their teams, it also benefits the organization as a whole.

  • Creative Problem Solving- By encouraging input from team members at all levels, leaders improve problem solving and the decision-making process throughout the organization. They realize that they are not the only ones with good ideas and do not impose their will upon others. They encourage input from everyone, regardless of their position.

  • Stronger Team Relationships - Since people work together in a collaborative environment, it's vital that they build strong relationships based on mutual respect, understanding, and clear communication skills. Leaders who foster this type of relationship building increase their team's loyalty to one another as well as to the organization.

  • Improved Employee Morale & Retention - When employees feel as though their opinions, ideas, and thoughts matter they are more likely to say they're satisfied with their jobs. Collaborating with a team to reach common goals has a positive impact on morale and retention. What's more, they are more willing to continue working for a company that allows them to be involved with something bigger than themselves.

  • Improved Productivity - Collaboration ensures that projects are completed, deadlines are met, and budgets are adhered to. When multiple individuals or teams work together, they are able to divide the work based upon areas of expertise. Collaboration also results in higher levels of productivity because everyone holds everyone else accountable. In fact, studies have shown that collaborative companies are 5 times more likely to be highly productive.

Collaborative Leadership Development

The leadership skills taught in colleges and universities in the past centered around making decisions and communicating expectations to those in lower positions. The focus was on creating a strong leader with the ability to make others do what they wanted simply because of their title and position in the company. Increasingly that type of leadership is falling by the wayside and collaborative leadership training is taking its place. To become truly effective as a leader, one must incorporate the following collaborative thought processes: 

  • Collaborative Leadership Beliefs - A collaborative leader understands that the best ideas and solutions come from a variety of sources. They know that they have great ideas, but they also realize that their limited perspective cannot account for every possibility. Rather than imposing their will and direction on others they are open to the opinions and ideas of others and actively seek collaborative opportunities. They understand that being inclusive best serves their team, themselves, and the organization in the long run.

  • Lead By Example - The best way for a leader to encourage their employees to work together is to be collaborative themselves. That means listening to different points of view, asking for help with decision making, and delegating responsibilities without micro-managing. Asking employees their opinions about the projects they're working on, challenges they face, opportunities they see, and how they feel about the organization's direction are all great ways to improve communication and collaboration.

  • Network Building - One of the key leadership skills necessary in today's world is the ability to build a strong network inside and outside of the organization. A collaborative leader understands that it's their job to encourage and help their employees do the same. Building strong teams that can work together is essential to growth and success.

  • Encourage Diversity - Collaborative leaders and managers are keenly aware that they must erase the boundaries that separate employees such as gender, ethnicity and age. Rather than sticking to familiar groups that are similar to themselves, they consciously choose teams that are diverse. Embracing those with different life experiences, educational backgrounds, and from different organizational levels helps leaders see the challenges and opportunities facing the organization from a new perspective.

  • Soft Skill Development - One of the keys to effective leadership is the ability to communicate, but that doesn't necessarily mean the ability to speak. In fact, the most important soft skill one can develop is the ability to listen with empathy. Leaders who are able to see the other person's point of view and understand it from their perspective are more likely to be successful. Encouraging this soft skill in employees ensures that they become better communicators and more successful as well. An organization full of empathetic communicators will naturally achieve more than one that is not.

Great leaders are not necessarily born they must learn the best ways to manage themselves and their employees to become successful. Collaborative leaders are often able to reach levels of success their traditional counterparts were unable to simply because they understand the importance of being inclusive. If you're interested in developing your own leadership skills contact us at NexaLearning to find out more about our leadership training and manager training programs. We also offer team building programs that help organizations bring their people together for lasting success. You'll see the difference, and so will your employees, shareholders, and customers.

Learn more about developing great leadership, download our whitepaper: Great Leaders Are Made, Not Born.

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Topics: Leadership Skills


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