It seems like everyone is talking about collaboration. Our organizational success will be based on how well we collaborate with each other as well as with other companies. What is collaboration and why is it so important today? Why must leaders learn to collaborate effectively in order to survive in our global workplace? What are the necessary leadership skills to successfully lead a collaborative team?
Collaboration is best defined as working together with at least one other person to accomplish a goal. That definition sounds a lot like teamwork to me. Yet, collaboration in diverse and global work environments is really much more than that. Whether our organization is located in one country or many, one thing is for sure- our workplaces consist of many backgrounds and cultures. We also might have several different locations. In order to create high performing teams and work together, leaders must have the skills to connect us together with our different expectations and understanding of what we value most. So what are some of the most important skills for collaborative leadership?
According to Jim Eicher in “The Matrix Manager”, there are four essential competences for today’s collaborative leaders:
- Empowerment: It is critical for leaders to provide opportunities for knowledge and information for the entire team. Team members must feel valued and listened to. Leaders need to create a culture of empowerment so everyone has a stake in the team’s choices and decision. When people feel empowered they will work harder and feel more satisfied in their work environments.
- Risk-Taking: Being able to deal with uncertainty and make the best choices available can be difficult for many teams. It is up to the leadership to help their team members go beyond their typical comfort zone in order to achieve higher outcomes. We all get “stuck” in certain places, that can sometimes prevent us from thinking and acting more creatively. A leader should take the initiative to discover each of their members’ limitations, and work on developing how to overcome them.
- Participation: A collaborative leader is able to encourage input of ideas and suggestions from team members. Every member of the team needs to be included in setting goals and priorities. A “we are all in this together” attitude needs to prevail in problem solving and decision-making.
- Development: Leaders should put a priority on developing the skills and abilities of the individuals on their team. Imagine if everyone was able to handle the challenges that a team faces! Accountability would then be a piece of cake. Additionally, trying to figure out what motivates each person can help a leader rally their troops to achieve monumental results. Each of us has different motivations to work and learn and grow.
Now is a perfect time to become a collaborative leader. Listen and coach your team to success. What other skills do you think are critical for collaborative leadership?