Leadership: 10 Tips for Collaborative Leaders

I once worked with the Director of a federal agency with a 7,000+ person workforce spread thinly over 70 countries. Together with the senior team we designed a change initiative that would only work if it was led by volunteers.Mandating behavior change was not an option. Actually, this is no different than any other initiative.

Nobody changes, unless they want to.

Leaders today are faced with a paradigm shift:moving from hierarchical command to a collaborative approach.Until recently executives were solely responsible for crafting their organization’s mission, strategy, and objectives. Their directives rolled down from on high and the workers were expected to execute.Today things are different.

A different type of leadership is called for. It requires a skill set that activates participation, releasing the knowledge, experience, and contribution of every person. It relies on getting people to think together, learn from each other, pool know-how and experience, and honor alternative points-of-view. It is the move from command-andcontrol to connect-and-collaborate.

I have worked with executives in world-class institutions, building their skills to ignite the engagement of staff and other key stakeholders. The goal is to activate the collective intelligence of the organization on behalf of mission and strategy.

Here are ten tips on how to do it:

1. Leverage Social Networks

On and off the org-chart networks are dynamic.They coalesce and dissipate based on interest, resources and need. Seek them out, engage them and listen to optimize their capacity to contribute.

2. Express appreciation to each stakeholder.

Each person involved in bringing your mission to life is a stakeholder. Let them know you appreciate their contribution. Appreciation breeds good will and support.

3. Consistently and repeatedly communicate context.

Context is about explaining the why behind change. Give people the information they need to make informed decisions and take action on your behalf.

4. Bring key players inside.

Create opportunities for the people who matter the most to meet you and your team. Take time to understand the world from their perspective.You will cultivate loyalty and understanding, commitment and support.

5. Make it easy for people to speak up.

Leaders often forget that it can take great courage for another person to speak their mind.Without honest concerns being voiced, leaders lack the feedback they need to be successful. Cheer people on when they offer their two cents.

6.Turn your staff members into leaders.

Provide them with the best opportunities to learn.When all people in the system are engaged, each staff member must be as skilled as possible.

7. Leverage your managers.

Middle managers are caught between worlds, trying to appease supervisors and align subordinates. They are the unsung heroes in today’s organization. Invest in them.

8. Give staff members the chance to reflect together.

Reflection is a critical part of the learning process. Many want to pack in as much information as possible. But, a short reflective experience provides the necessary leverage to turn information into applications.

9. Use social activities effectively.

Some of the most important transactions take place over meals, coffee, and in the presence of entertainment. This setting adds a critical dimension of interaction.Make the best use for extraordinary alliances and results.

10. Make business-casual your modus operandi.

Combine serious intentions (business) with informal rapport (casual). It is the magic combination for building rapport and getting things done.

Change agents of all stripes recognize the power of collaboration. Use these ten techniques to create a signature style of leadership that will grow your influence.