Collaborative Leadership in a Global Society

What is Collaborative Leadership?

What does collaborative leadership look like in a global society?

At the societal level it’s taking the best that all of us know and can do and putting it together in ways that help everyone.

At the partnership level, it’s working across organizational and group boundaries to solve problems and accomplish shared goals.

At the workplace level, it’s respecting each other, clarifying complex issues and managing productive conflict.

Accomplishing these things requires that we learn a new set of approaches that are vastly different from the leadership that we may have used in the past.

What Do Collaborative Leaders Do?

Share Control

The problem is that companies face a mismatch: They have developed a strong base of operational leaders who perform well when they have direct control over a specific set of resources that they can deploy to achieve accountable results. Unfortunately, the matrixed, global structure that is becoming the norm for many organizations requires leaders who can subordinate their agenda, yield power and give up resources for the greater good.

Rick Lash, The Collaboration Imperative, Ivey Business Journal, iveybusinessjournal.com

Build Connections and Influence Outside of Formal Systems

Collaborative Leadership is an influence relationship, which engenders safety, trust and commitment.

John Dentico, Collaborative Leadership Defined, Leadsimm.com

In her 1994 Harvard Business Review article “Collaborative Advantage”, Rosabeth Moss Kanter talks about leaders who recognize that there are critical business relationships “that cannot be controlled by formal systems but require (a) dense web of interpersonal connections…”[1].

Wikipedia.org, Collaborative Leadership

Work Through Ambiguity and Complexity Using Creativity and Innovation

It is clear that collaboration is a necessity in navigating today’s complex work environments where ambiguity and change are constants.

Susan Hoberecht, Ph.D. student in organizational systems at Saybrook University, Rethinking Complexity, Saybrook.thinkpad.com

Collaboration, by its very nature, tends toward disorder at times and a lack of central control by any one entity.

Academics and Practitioners on Collaborative Leadership, Turning Point Leadership National Excellence Collaborative

The CEO’s in the IBM study saw the need to work with ambiguity in ways that engage creativity and support innovation. Our belief is that leaders who understand the nature of transformative learning will stop focusing on discredited controls and instead embrace creative collaboration – the lifeblood of truly 21st century organizations.

Nancy Southern, Organizational Systems Program, Saybrook University, Organizational Systems, What Leaders Need to Know, saybrook.typepad.com

Respect Others and Build on Differences

David Archer and Alex Cameron in their book Collaborative Leadership: How to succeed in an interconnected world, identify the basic task of the collaborative leader as the delivery of results across boundaries between different organisations. They say “Getting value from difference is at the heart of the collaborative leader’s task… they have to learn to share control, and to trust a partner to deliver, even though that partner may operate very differently from themselves.”[4]

Wikipedia.org, Collaborative Leadership

Align Goals and Accomplish a Shared Outcome

Collaborative success depends on trust, and trust depends on good communication. Collaborative leaders must not only be clear about their own goals, they must also understand and respect their collaborative partners’ goals in order to find ways to bring these diverse goals into alignment.

Rick Lash, The Collaboration Imperative, Ivey Business Journal, iveybusinessjournal.com

Hank Rubin author and President of the Institute of Collaborative Leadership has written “A collaboration is a purposeful relationship in which all parties strategically choose to cooperate in order to accomplish a shared outcome.” In his book “Collaborative Leadership: Developing Effective Partnerships for Communities and Schools” Rubin asks “Who is a collaborative leader?” and answers “You are a collaborative leader once you have accepted responsibility for building – or helping to ensure the success of – a heterogeneous team to accomplish a shared purpose .

Wikipedia.org, Collaborative Leadership

Continuously Learn and Adapt

In the years ahead volatility and uncertainty will tyrannize markets, and companies will need leaders who are highly adaptive, continuous learners, able to lead diverse groups across functional disciplines, regions and cultures.

Rick Lash, The Collaboration Imperative, Ivey Business Journal, iveybusinessjournal.com

The journey to a collaborative way of working is a daily challenge of learning and transformation.

Collaborativeleaders.us, What is Collaboration?

Learning how to lead collaboratively will stretch us and transform how we work. We will need to learn continuously and become comfortable with not having the answers and not controlling the process. We will need to build trust across boundaries. While we will not have the answers ourselves, using collaborative leadership we will discover them together.

Related Posts: 

Complexity, Creativity and Collaboration, Linda Fisher Thornton, Leading in Context Blog

What is Creativity, Linda Fisher Thornton, Leading in Context Blog

10 Reasons to Embrace Complexity, Linda Fisher Thornton, Leading in Context Blog

About the Author Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO/Owner of Leading in Context, a consulting firm that also publishes leadership development modules, graphics, case studies, discussion guides and videos. Her mission is to clarify what it means to lead ethically in a complex world. Linda is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor teaching Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies.

Her most recent publication is a Leading in Context™ Video called “The Evolving Leadership Context: Respectful Workplaces” which is downloadable at the LeadinginContext.com/Store.

About Linda Fisher Thornton
Author of 7 Lenses, Speaker, Bringing Out the Best in People and Organizations Through Proactive Ethical Leadership, CEO Leading in Context, 2014 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior, Adj. Assist. Prof. of Ethics and Leadership, UR SPCS

4 Responses to Collaborative Leadership in a Global Society

  1. Pingback: Carnival of HR: Challenging the future of the organisation… « Inside My Head…

  2. Pingback: Collaborative Leadership in a Global Society | New Leadership | Scoop.it

  3. Karin Hurt says:

    Great points. it is vital that we change our tools and reward systems to encourage such collaboration.

  4. Pingback: Collaborative Leadership in a Global Society | Collaborationweb | Scoop.it

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