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Are you a collaborative leader?

Pyramid style hierarchies are being phased out in favour of a more collaborative leadership approach. Businesses from various industries have shifted to a flatter hierarchical structure in recent years. But where does this leave leaders? You still have the title and responsibility, so what’s changed? And what needs to change in order for you to be successful in your developing role? Read on to find out.

What is a collaborative leader?

In a shift away from siloed working, collaborative leaders share information and work together, with everybody taking responsibility for the whole. Managers, executives, and staff become less departmentalised and instead unite to form an open culture.

In contrast to traditional vertical structures where information flows from the top down, flatter structures create a more inclusive environment. In this way collaborative leaders must not only share knowledge but seek ideas and listen too. Through collaborative leadership employees feel valued and trusted. All parties are more engaged, productive and take ownership of their work.

Collaborative leaders…

1. Let go of the reins

Stepping back can be challenging, particularly if you have been in a traditional leadership role for a number of years. You may be in the habit of actioning ideas and delegating, but within collaborative leadership it is okay to not have all the answers. That’s where team working comes in.

When a business challenge presents itself openly discuss it with the entire team. Make your announcements an invitation for co-creation. Gaining perspectives is the ideal way to develop creative solutions. By collaborating you are admitting that your idea is not always the best one, which will humanise you amongst employees. They will gain respect for you as well as feel valued and appreciated when you engage with their ideas. Letting go of the reins for your team to innovate will pay off as you achieve the best possible outcome.

2. Value open communication

As a collaborative leader you must prioritise open communication. This means not only sharing information, but also engaging with employees. For collaborative practices to be successful all staff must feel they can share ideas and feedback without having to follow formal chains of command.

In order to break down silos, encourage collaboration across teams. Innovation and planning meetings which involve various parties - or any approach that encourages teams spending time together, communicating - can further strengthen your workplace’s open culture. Transparency and open lines of communication build a supportive environment and will help projects to progress.

3. Focus on a shared goal

With a free flow of ideas, innovations and communication you may be wondering how you reach end goals. The solution is for all parties to focus on a shared goal. Your shared goals should be defined at the start of the program, project or sprint. This puts everyone on the same page from the get-go, working together and progressing towards the same end results.

The other challenge you may discover is forming relationships with other egos. The collaborative leadership approach means you will be working closely with other leaders, and this can be tough if it is not something you have had to do in the past. Again, the key is to set out your shared goal. This will immediately bring you together, focussed on collaborating to achieve desired outcomes.

The benefits of the collaborative leadership style

In many ways collaborative leadership is much harder than traditional leadership, but it comes with such a host of benefits that make it worthwhile.

For one, you will gain a collective intelligence, which is far more productive and powerful. Think of your colleagues and employees as an untapped resource. Teams who cooperate build effective strategies and solve problems. What’s more, combining talents and ideas will energise, inspire and empower employees, making them more productive, loyal and hardworking as a result.

Whether the nature of your organisation’s hierarchy has flattened out or not, tweaking your leadership style to be more collaborative is sure to inspire your team and lead to victory.