5 Reasons Why Collaborative Leadership Works

Friday, March 27, 2015

joining hands
Over the years I have learned much about leadership. I have learned some invaluable lessons from some incredibly gifted leaders over the years. But some of the most valuable lessons I have learned come from some colossal mistakes I have watched others make. One common mistake I have observed leaders make is this - they fail to involve others around them. I am baffled as to why some people insist on leading all by themselves and refuse to partner with gifted people that God has surrounded them with. I suspect that the number one reason for this is simply due to insecurity. They fear that someone might get the glory or steal their job away from them. That is not leadership and it won't accomplish very much.

I have come to the conclusion that great leaders value something others don't - collaboration. Webster's defines collaboration as "to work jointly with others or together, especially in an intellectual endeavor." Notice that I put the emphasis on with here because so many leave out that simple little word. It is a trite expression, but powerfully true nonetheless - "There is no I in team." The very essence of the meaning of leadership is to take people somewhere with you. Unless someone goes with you, you haven't led anyone. I have determined to be what I call a Collaborative Leader. This requires not only leading people, but involving them in the leadership process, giving them the reins, and letting them get the credit. I can tell you it works and is the key to successful leadership whether you are a CEO in charge of thousands of people, or a manager in charge of just a few people in a small department. They key is to find creative ways to involve people in the process so that they feel an integral part of the team.

Let me give you 5 reasons why Collaborative Leadership works.

#1 - It forces you to be humble.

If you are going to involve people in your leadership, it will require you to put aside your own agenda and adopt a bigger one. When you collaborate with others, it ceases to be about you anymore and it becomes about us. That is a good thing and will make you a better leader.

#2 - It develops your people skills.

Great leadership is 99% people skills and 1% actual talent. I know this to be true because I have observed two facts in life. First, I have observed that someone who has second-to-none talent and ability yet possesses very little people skills is doomed to fail. Second, I have seen people with very little talent enjoy great success in leadership because they surrounded themselves with people who could do things they couldn't. Like I said before, if you can't get people to go with you, you aren't leading. That is a simple fact of life. Collaboration requires that I work with people. Chances are great that any group of people will have a diversity in talent, skill and personality levels. This will require that you learn the art of team building.

#3 - It nurtures longevity in your team.

Collaborative leaders have a reputation for high morale and a low turn-over rate in their departments. Why is this? It is because people feel valued and needed with this type of leader. I would choose that over a larger salary any day. The reason why longevity is a result is because employees know this kind of leadership is rare and they don't want to give that up.

#4 - It is a lot more fun.

Collaborative leaders sleep better at night, have less stress and are generally happier. I don't have clinical statistics to back this up, just experience. When you lead collaboratively, you take all the pressure off yourself of having to do it all yourself. You don't have to come up with all the answers and do all the work. You have a team that you can draw from. You see, not only do collaborative leaders share the glory with others when things go right, they have a team that is willing to share the responsibility when it goes wrong. Ask any winning professional sports team if this is true. When you win, the whole team wins. And when you lose, the whole team loses. If you chose to lead like a lone ranger, you will get all the glory when your project succeeds, but you will also get all of the blame when it flops.

#5 - It makes you a better leader.

Think about it. When you involve others in the process, you bring their unique talent and abilities to the table. Including their talent and input increases the potential for success exponentially. The more I collaborate with others, the better I become. That is why it is important to surround yourself with people who have skills and experience that you don't. You now eliminate limitations and barriers. I have to admit that I owe all my successes to the people around me. I wouldn't be where I am today without so many others who have walked with me in the process through both the successes and the failures.

If you want to improve your leadership skills, the best way to do that is get people around you involved in the process. Purposefully surround yourself with people who can do things you can't and you will build a winning team that will not only work for you, but with you and will stay for the long-haul. You can do it all by yourself, but doing so will only limit you and you will only end up frustrated and lonely in the end.

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Maribeth Curley said...

I could not agree with the premise of this article more. Every professional leader I've ever had who works this way has been more inspiring, and thus generated more ideas and productivity, than leaders who see themselves as dictators could ever dream of. Opening yourself up to the experience and wisdom of all your team members brings so much value.

Maribeth Curley @ UP Communication

David Good said...

Thank you Maribeth. I like the concept of "opening up" to your team members. That's a good definition of collaboration. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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