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Eight Ways Collaborative Leadership Might Benefit Your Business

Collaborative leadership is a process more than a behavior. Commonly found in nonprofits, alternative education, and community initiatives, this type of leadership has been implemented in some businesses, like Frontier Airlines, according to an SHRM blog. It's used most often in complex situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. Although our world is beginning to look more "normal," it is likely working environments and communications worldwide will be forever changed. However, collaborative leadership is based on the premise that sharing the responsibility for a complex issue pushes a group to find a resolution that will be successful for the entire organization.  

Unprecedented organizational change requires unparalleled leadership. Collaborative leadership means controlling the process and not the group, and no one small group or one individual makes all the decisions. It means every employee at every level is responsible for achieving positive results. Through combined efforts, the group realizes new methodologies and efficiencies to handle the challenges a monumental crisis brings.

Here's what collaborative leadership can bring to your business:

  1. Collaborative leadership means leaders are responsible for coordinating the collaborative process and guiding the group in decision-making and implementation of goals. Collaborative leaders remove obstacles that thwart group success and empower group members with freedom of self-direction and greater involvement. Each group member has a distinct degree of ownership for an initiative's success.

  2. Under collaborative leadership, team members are more likely to develop action plans and have a sense of accountability towards the outcome.

  3. Collaborative leaders are more likely to build trust. With open discussion and encouraging dialogue among different teams as its core components, collaborative leadership drives the process. Collaborative leaders don't coax or push team members towards a specific decision or direction.

  4. Collaborative leaders are team-oriented. They're good listeners and create collaborative work environments quickly. Their focus is transparency, trust, and relationship-building to set an atmosphere of sharing perspectives, ideas, and concepts.

  5. Under collaborative leadership, turf issues become non-existent. By developing mutual trust between fellow members, each team member's concerns are addressed. The organization benefits since employees work together to find common ground towards a common goal.

  6. Collaborative leaders empower stakeholders by including them in both the problem-solving and planning stages and the subsequent decision-making process. This inclusion is the training ground or learning experience for future leaders from within various teams. Inclusivity prompts the team to take responsibility for their decisions and actions for better organizational results. Training leaders from within a group or company assures commitment and continuation in addressing the issues that need resolving.

  7. Collaborative leadership stokes innovative ideas and increases access to relevant information. Teams are introduced to a wider range of perspectives which in turn broadens awareness. Problem-solving solutions developed within a collaborative environment are more likely to be better since they have many individuals' input rather than a small group.

  8. Collaborative leadership provides opportunities for significant and substantial results. To yield tangible outcomes, there must be a combination of ownership of results and process, trust, better planning, and a desire to collaborate across teams even though individual teams may experience conflict in reaching goals together.

So, when is the best time to implement collaborative leadership? The best time to put collaborative leadership into practice is when the entire company faces a problematic situation, where every facet of the business is affected. For example, when reopening after the pandemic. Collaborative leadership ensures everyone, every team member, involved has a voice.

Collaborative leadership can be effective when other attempts at solutions have failed. It's also ideal when there are stakeholders within the company that has diverse interests or agendas. Collaborative leadership builds trust not only among discrete stakeholders but in the process itself.

Another situation that calls for collaborative leadership is when an issue can't be resolved by one group or one person. Yet, the complex nature and gravity of the problem require team members or groups to put aside personal agendas and self-interests to participate and deal with the difficulties together.