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3 Ways To Be a Collaborative Leader

March 20, 2011

I had a coffee meeting today with 2 Gen Y entrepreneurs, Winnie and Robin of they are creative and innovative and are excellent models of collaborative leadership.These two university grads have teamed up as the leaders of their tech company and in the four times I have met with them I am very impressed by their team approach and complete support of each other.It doesn’t matter which generation we are, we all need to build the skill set of being collaborative in order to move ahead successfully in our fast changing world.

There are 3 ways to be a collaborative leader and to increase your success with people and your results:

1. Focus on the overall vision– firstly to be a collaborative leader you need to initiate the vision dialogue and then engage the other leaders and the team to ‘catch’ the vision, expand on it and then share enthusiasm about it. In Robin and Winnie’s case they both saw the need in the marketplace for online appointment bookings for the medical community and they both saw each other as integral components in achieving their vision. They have a shared passion which makes them focus on the bigger vision when personal conflicts may come up.

2. Set clear structures and processes- collaborative leadership requires a strong foundation, which means that in order to build on the vision the stakeholders (meaning the leaders and the team) need to agree on systems and processes. In the old way of leadership the leader would use an autocratic approach by setting systems alone without input and dialogue and then instructed everyone to follow his or her process. The challenge with that approach in today’s new economy is that there are so many moving parts and variables at play and autocracy will backfire. In a multi-generational workplace a collaborative leader uses technology, face to face meetings and surveys to gather intelligence from their teams and co-leaders to build the best processes for everyone involved.

3. Use a “WE” approach to create synergy- if you have ever watched an awards show you will notice that the best acceptance speeches are those that acknowledge all of the people that helped the award winner to get to their success. We all know intellectually that individual success is rarely just created by that individual. A collaborative leader celebrates all individual and team successes equally. The old style leader used to go for the guts and the glory of leading the team to greatness, the new economy leader builds on the unique strengths of each of their peers and team members and builds a team energy that creates incredible synergy. Winnie and Robin see that the success of their new venture lies with their team but they also take a strong “WE” approach to their customers and investors. They visit their clients together and they meet with their investors together, they present a united front that is focused on what is best for the “WE” which is the overall benefits to everyone involved.

With all of the global changes we are experiencing we know that change is now an ongoing part of our lives and we also know and sense that we cannot go forward alone. We are all in this together and the more collaborative we can be in all of our interactions the greater our successes.

Cheryl Cran, CSP is the author of “101 Ways to Make Generations X, Y and Zoomers Happy at Work” and “The Control Freak Revolution” as well as 2 other leadership books. She is a leadership and generations expert and works with clients such as McDonalds, 3M, TD Canada Trust, Bell, RBC Dominion, Astra Zeneca and many others.

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