Collaborative leadership. Hold up just a second. Isn’t that a whatchamacallit - an oxymoron; a contradiction in terms, or something? Not so, ladies and gents! Collaborative leadership is a fabulous new leadership style that calls for team leaders to enhance the relationships between managers and employees, and facilitate cross-departmental collaboration to ensure that workflow is optimal so ideas are aligned throughout a given enterprise.
If you’re wondering whether your management style can be filed under this category, you can go have a look at this informative article by Harvard Business Review - it lays it all out. In the meantime, we are going to share a few of the reasons why collaborative leadership is a great idea if you want to drive the growth of your business.
7 Ways collaborative leadership can improve your business:
1. Creativity blooms!
Successful collaboration is a breeding ground for creativity. When people are inspired to approach shared goals from various points of view, you're essentially building a cross-functional, problem-solving machine. By leading collaboratively, you are essentially tapping into your team's collective intelligence and fostering strategic alliances that will likely blow everything you've done up until that point right out of the water. Do we sound enthused? That’s because we are! We’ve seen the magic of this type of approach in practice and we promise you it’s like creative catnip - the more results your team members see, the more they want. It’s a never-ending cycle of YAY.
2. Silos go the way of the dinosaur
Silos are cool when they're the literal kind used to store grain that goes into delicious baked goods (hmmm, chocolate-almond croissants!), not so much when it's the figurative kind that occurs when departments or management groups do not share information, goals, tools, priorities and processes with other departments. The second one is a bit of a buzz kill to be honest. Collaborative leadership breaks down silos by bringing people together and creating opportunities for employees to get to know one another outside of their immediate teams. This results in better cohesion, improved loyalty and the ability to band together across boundaries that may previously have hampered productivity.
3. Knowledge and skills are transferred directly
Both traditional and peer-to-peer mentoring has proven to improve employee engagement levels. By working directly with their team, collaborative leaders can transfer their knowledge, skills and wisdom directly. The same goes for peers who have the opportunity to work together in new and exciting groupings. Feedback is instant, data is shared openly, network building skills, and strengthened and contextual intelligence gets a nice boost in the process as well. If this is not a win-win-win situation, we don’t know what is.
4. Managers grow their skill sets
A collaborative leader is still required to manage people and resources, but has to do so in a way that paves the way for a happy working environment. When people used to think ‘management’ it automatically meant command and control. However, the modern-day workforce is full of innovative millennials and Gen X dynamos who require leaders that have emotional intelligence and are ready to leverage social engagement to get to grips with the very human emotions, desires and motivations of their team members. A collaborative environment is the perfect space in which to hone these skills. Essentially, managers are learning alongside their teams to be more open, create new opportunities and seek out solutions that promote success on the whole.
5. Team morale soars
Team morale is a funny thing - it's not exactly something you can quantify, but you sure notice when it's not there. When morale is down, everyone suffers. Minor irritations become major scraps, tensions build, resentment flourishes and before you know it a whole lot of important stuff starts falling through the cracks. Collaborative leadership is a great morale builder because it asks individuals to set aside their egos to solve problems together. It's the ultimate equaliser, which builds trust among team members, which boosts morale in the long run.
6. Collaborative leadership shortens lead times
When you create a work environment in which every team member is focussing on what they do best and are allowed to put their strengths on the table, you are setting yourself up for some serious operational efficiency. By focussing on the development of individual strengths rather than pointing out areas of weakness, the need for review and revision will be reduced, and quality of work will improve exponentially. Less revisions = fewer costs = shorter lead times + more savings on goods and services.
7. Individual workload is more manageable
Listen, we all like to pretend that we're good with time poverty. It's somewhat of a status symbol these days, in fact. Getting together for a meal requires at least one 'sorry, in Jozi for a conference then', countered with 'oh no, and that's the weekend I've set aside to work on my proposal for XYZ', a 'no can do, meeting in CPT', and a 'lunch? can't even remember when last I took one doll'. Wake up and smell the Stockholm syndrome folks. Companies with a solid company culture promote a healthy work-life balance. This is another reason why collaborative leadership is such a great idea - it allows a team to divide their workload in equal fashion. When all hands are on deck working towards the same goal, this results in a more manageable workload overall.
Are you sold on collaborative leadership yet?
We sure are. Anything that allows creativity to bloom, does away with departmental silos, boosts knowledge transfer and team morale, challenges managers to grow, tightens up a team and fosters a positive work life balance gets a full-on LIKE from us.
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