Workplace Collaboration

Working with Your People, Transforming your Leadership

As leaders, if we want our organisations to remain competitive, it’s imperative that we transform them into literal engines that drive increases in efficiency, productivity and innovation. In the past, leaders achieved results simply by controlling their resources and their people. This type of leadership, controlling and authoritarian in nature, no longer works well in today’s interconnected and interdependent world. “Managing” your people and resources is no longer enough to succeed.

 

Challenges to Collaboration

To be effective today, leaders must learn how to encourage collaboration and use it to create an environment that fosters creativity, productivity and innovation in order to drive growth. Rather than using control to manage people, the collaborative leader acts as a facilitator to link together people, ideas and resources.
A collaborative leader uses their skills to build trust, develop relationships and empower their people. They create an inclusive, open workspace that is full of energy, boosting passion, productivity and enjoyment. In a collaborative environment, work isn’t just efficient and productive; traditional barriers are removed and your people feel free; they are empowered to share and help one another accomplish your objectives and work becomes vibrant, creative and fun!
Many leaders have difficulty in adopting collaborative leadership because it means that they must check their ego and willingly surrender power in favour of building partnerships where everything, control, resources and credit, is shared. Others dismiss the benefits of adopting collaborative leadership because they worry that giving up power will make them appear weak and lead to the perception by others that they are less effective.

 

Top Leadership Skills that Support Collaboration

Collaboration isn’t about being weak and submissive however; it’s about using one’s skills to empower one another and increase the strength and effectiveness of every team member and partner. Leaders with a high degree of self-confidence and a strong sense of self often find it easier to enter into collaborative partnerships. Being forward thinking and open to new ways of thinking and doing things, being flexible and embracing both risk and change are also helpful to leaders that wish to encourage cooperation and collaboration.
In collaborative leadership, leaders rely on their networks and personal connections rather than formal control structures to attract, influence and motivate top talent. They use their communication skills to encourage interaction and connection between diverse groups of people. Empathy, determination and patience help these leaders to be able to manage conflict and build their coalitions.

 

How to Encourage Cooperation and Collaboration in Your Organisation

Adopting a collaborative leadership strategy is not solely about improving certain leadership skills. It also takes a bit more than simply making the decision that you want to encourage collaboration in your workplace.
As a leader, you truly set the tone and create your organisation’s culture. It literally is up to you to blaze the trail and model the attitudes and behaviour that you want your team to adopt. If you want to encourage collaboration, your actions must match your words, you literally must walk the walk!
Rather unwittingly, many leaders poison their own well and destroy any chance of creating a workspace that encourages cooperation and collaboration. In a video detailing research into what makes us open to collaboration conducted by IBM, Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman discusses how something as simple as the way a leader appears dressed at a gathering can have a direct and dire influence on collaboration.

In order to change your corporate culture into one that encourages collaboration, leaders must make certain that their actions match their words and their goals. There are a few questions that you can ask yourself that will help guide you to your own personal “problem areas” and point the way to things you can work on to encourage collaboration in your organisation.

  • What messages, both verbal and physical, are you sending to your people? If you truly want greater cooperation and collaboration is this the behaviour that you are modelling for your people?
  • What steps are you taking to show that collaboration is important to you and that you are serious about breaking down barriers and increasing communication and openness within your organisation?
  • Are you accessible to your people? How many “gates” and “hoops” do your people have to go through before they can communicate and share information or other resources with you and others?
  • Are you making it easy for others to “want” to help you?
  • What steps are you taking to share the glory and limelight with those that do cooperate and collaborate and achieve results?
  • Have you thought about potential conflicts, both internal and external, that may develop as you move forward? Do you have a plan to handle these conflicts when they do occur so that you keep your people working with one another and for you instead of working against everyone?

 

As you think about the answers to these questions, don’t worry if you discover that you need some help developing a strategy to move your organisation forward or find that you need to strengthen some of your leadership skills – we’re here to help you. Get in touch today to learn more about how our personalised coaching and consulting services can help you.

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