A new style of leadership is emerging in the workplace, turning management upside down and erasing the old paradigm set in place by past generations. Collaborative leadership is growing in popularity and focuses on unleashing employee talent, intellect, and drive in service to the success and the greater good of the company.
A majority of the millennial generation joining the workforce are not comfortable with top-down leadership roles and instead are replacing the corporate ladder with a human one built from collaboration and collective intelligence. Here I will discuss what collaborative leadership is and how it works.
What Is Collaborative Leadership?
Collaborative leadership happens when a leader acts as a facilitator instead of a dictator and focuses on helping employees become their best selves while developing an environment that fosters openness and responsibility.
This paradigm shift engages employees in the destiny of the business and instills a deep sense of purpose to their work. Leaders are transparent and inspire individuals without exercising an abundance of authority and control and in return, the employees are more confident, efficient and productive.
Cultivating Employee Leadership Skills
Seeking out a diversity of opinions and ideas from employees helps to build better strategies and solve problems quicker and more effectively. Facilitating employees to collaborate and use their own leadership skills empowers them to take ownership and to do their best work.
Through collaborative leadership, executives and managers create an inspiring environment that energizes teams, releases creativity, and cultivates a work culture that’s productive, efficient and fulfilling. In traditional top-down leadership models, only the executives control the flow of information, whereas in collaborative leadership everything is shared organically and everyone takes responsibility for the whole.
Authentic Corporate Culture
The company culture is the living story and internal guidance system of a business. What defines your organization? What core ideals and values was it established on? What has it achieved over the course of its existence, and what is the goal for the customers? These are all elements of company culture and the environment where your staff plays an important role.
The company culture defines how employees will behave with each other, vendors and customers and creates the overall attitude of your business. When the values are modeled and upheld by everyone in the company, the daily behaviors of the employees will reflect the core values of the business and bond them together in an authentic way.
Keep Communication Lines Open
Allowing open communication styles throughout the company is a critical component in collaboration leadership. Managers and executives interact with all staff and encourage them to share feedback or ideas, without having to follow a formal chain of command.
In a collaborative environment, if someone is unhappy with the way something is being done, they are encouraged to speak up and make their concern known whether it is with a co-worker, manager or owner. It’s the opposite of having an open-door policy, and instead, management reaches out to employees for their thoughts and opinions and values their input.
Developing strong relationships within the workplace involves acknowledging that everybody’s experience is different and all experiences are valid. If a manager wants to have a balanced and honest partnership with employees, they can’t use their power to leverage situations to turn out in their favor or to make an employee’s concerns invalid. Otherwise, trust and partnership go out the window.
Guiding employees to see how their actions affect others around them is an active skill for building relationships within a collaborative leadership. When employees see the big picture of how all departments work together to deliver the end goal, they understand the importance of their efforts to the success of the company as a whole. They also become aware of how their inefficiency hinders the other employees from performing their duties and how the accountability falls on them.
Collaborative leadership requires the leaders in the organization to be transparent, and at times, to be able to admit that they don’t always have the answers. Willingness to set aside ego and listen to, and incorporate others’ ideas empowers employees trust and inspiration. By encouraging employees to offer their perspectives to help identify problems and develop solutions, managers are facilitating the team to produce stronger outcomes.
In conclusion, it is often said that leadership starts at the top, but collaborative leadership empowers the employees to lead and is quickly evolving into a new paradigm that produces greater results.