Collaborative Leadership: A Process for Success in a Turbulent World


Success with Collaborative Leadership Starts with How

Do you know how to provide collaborative leadership in a disciplined fashion? And how does one define disciplined collaboration? The current business and leadership literature touts the importance of collaborating in our turbulent world. Large and small businesses and teams struggle to wrap their heads around just what collaboration is. Many see collaboration or collaborative leadership as a challenge that can be met through technology, whether it is through social media or virtual conferencing, while others recognize the benefits of restructuring an office space so that it appears more open. However, technology and physical space are only superficial means to address the challenge of disciplined collaboration. Collaboration – and successful collaborative leadership – does not derive from “where” or through “which” media people interact. Instead, it is about “how” people interact. And that “how” must be disciplined.

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A disciplined collaborative planning process requires certain elements. Altogether, there are many elements in a planning process; however, some of the elements most successfully impact an effective collaborative leadership process. An Afterburner corporate leadership seminar teaches the elements that allow the process to be dynamic, iterative, participatory and cognitively diverse.

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Finding the correct direction to proceed requires another element of the collaborative planning process: cognitive diversity. Collaborative leadership will not be successful if you are collaborating with a team of individuals that think alike, have similar backgrounds and experience, occupy the same hierarchical positions, and so forth. Creativity and innovation require divergent thinking and dialogue. Therefore, disciplined collaboration must adhere to a process that harnesses cognitive diversity. Utilize your collaborative leadership skills to incorporate a balanced mixture of experience, knowledge, and positions for the collaborative process. Consider that two heads are actually not more valuable than one if both heads think alike and see the world in the same way. As Maslow famously quipped, “to a hammer, everything looks like a nail”, so make sure that you have a complete toolbox when planning collaboratively.

Additionally, the process must be simple. To collaborate effectively and efficiently, people need a simple process. If a team has to spend time organizing and training about how they are going to collaborate and then struggle to become proficient at that process, then efficiency and effectiveness suffer. Collaborative leadership entails using a simple, scaleable process that is easy to apply and consistently utilizing that process organization-wide. Disciplined collaboration will become a widely practiced behavior, and that behavior will ultimately become a healthy collaborative culture.

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