If you are tired of “us vs. them” attitudes… if you are feeling frustrated or hopeless about those who don’t agree with your views… if you are concerned about the polarization in this world today… if you are waiting for leadership that unites instead of divides…
… the best place to start is by taking responsibility for yourself.
Polarization is Self-Reinforcing
If you only talk with people who agree with you and only read and listen to news sources that hold your own viewpoint, you will get distorted, filtered information that simply reinforces your viewpoint.
Unless we let go of foregone conclusions, only looking for proof of what we already believe, we are doomed to be stuck at deeply opposing, unresolvable poles.
Set your viewpoint . . . → Read More: 4 Steps Toward Collaborative Leadership
I was delighted to catch up with Jake Jacobs, the creator of Real Time Strategic Change (RTSC), the approach that brings hundreds of people together to make collaborative decisions about their organization in real time, which I described in Try Collaborative Change for a Change.
I had an opportunity to ask Jake about how change has changed since he first developed RTSC. Jesse: Jake, you wrote the first edition of your groundbreaking book Real Time Strategic Change twenty years ago. I’ve used RTSC many times over the years and am always impressed with what happens when you bring a large slice of an organization together to discuss issues and make decisions instead of putting them in an auditorium to be talked at by the . . . → Read More: An Interview with Jake Jacobs on Real Time Strategic Change
If you are tired of “trickle-down” change, consider using a collaborative change process where a large slice of your organization comes together for real conversation and to make decisions about your collective future in real-time.
This kind of high-involvement process was used by Southern New England Telephone to prepare for deregulation and the emergence of competition. It was used by Jackson Hole Ski Resort to reconsider their strategic direction. It was used when the Boston Gardens closed and they opened the new Fleet Center building. It was used by the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center when they opened under new management.
It has been used by hundreds of other organizations, where leaders understood that the attempt to hold onto power at the top of . . . → Read More: Try Collaborative Change for a Change
Often the words collaboration, coordination, and cooperation are used to describe effective teamwork. But they are not the same, and when we use these words interchangeably, we dilute their meaning and diminish the potential for creating powerful, collaborative workplaces.
Collaboration has been a big word in the news lately, most recently due to Marissa Mayer’s explanation of her decision to bring Yahoo employees back to the office: “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side.”
Mayer’s belief that we work together better when we have real relationships, and that it is easier to build relationships when you have face-to-face contact is not unfounded. Coordination and cooperation is essential for effective and efficient . . . → Read More: Let’s Stop Confusing Cooperation and Teamwork with Collaboration
Polarization keeps us apart, disconnected. Polarization keeps us from finding creative solutions that benefit all.
There is no winning in polarization. There is only “win-lose.”
Leadership is about bringing people together, unifying around a common vision. It is about creating community.
“Leadership is the wise use of power. Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it.” ~Warren Bennis
Unifying people against a common enemy is an immoral use of power. This is what Hitler did — he led his people right over a cliff.
When we are filled with hatred and disrespect, we can only square off in opposite camps. We might negotiate agreements, but each side walks away feeling like they lost more than they gained.
. . . → Read More: Collaboration Is the Remedy for Polarization
Collaborative leaders create communities where people unite around a common purpose and values, working collaboratively to accomplish a shared vision that makes a powerful and positive impact.
Their job is to champion the vision, provide resources and remove roadblocks. How do they do this? Some of these 12 behaviors could describe any leader. But when you look at them altogether, a pattern emerges that is quite different from traditional leaders.
1. Flatten things.
They flatten the traditional hierarchical chain of command and create networks. They also flatten compensation structures so the difference in pay-scale between the top and bottom is not astronomical.
2. Allow leadership to emerge.
They let go of the need to be in control because they trust in the . . . → Read More: 12 Things Collaborative Leaders Do
Are you a collaborative leader?
Collaborative leaders understand that organizations are networks of relationships and that relationships are the glue that holds them together.
Anyone can be collaborative leader — no matter whether you are the president, a mid-level manager or a front-line supervisor.. or in a large corporation a small business, a non-profit, or a school.
Collaborative leaders create communities, whether they lead the entire organization or a team within the organization.
Collaboration is not an option – it is an imperative.
If you are in any doubt that collaborative leadership is an imperative, and not just a fad, take a look at any of these 22 articles in the Harvard Business Review series on collaboration.
Or even better yet, watch this . . . → Read More: 8 Things Collaborative Leaders Know
Do You Work In a Matrix?
Do you work in a company that requires you to coordinate across reporting lines to accomplish your goals? In order to complete work, are people dependent on others who report to a different boss?
Matrix organizations are becoming more common as organizations grow larger, become more complex, and/or enter global markets. They offer the advantages of increased information flow across boundaries, deeper development of expertise and knowledge, and greater flexibility and responsiveness.
However, the disadvantages will quickly outweigh the advantages if leaders think this is simply a matter of restructuring or drawing dotted lines on an organizational chart.
Leadership In a Matrix
Everyone must provide leadership and assume responsibility for success. A matrix simply will not work with . . . → Read More: Manage The Challenges of Working In a Matrix Organization
“I think collaboration can be a good idea and I probably should involve others more in decision-making. But it really slows things down. I can’t involve people in every little detail or we’ll never get anything done around here,” Jim remarked, waiting for my response.
Jim’s natural style was just do it and until recently it had paid off. Now he had gotten feedback he was too much of a Lone Ranger.
Jim was right – you shouldn’t have to compromise on delivering results, and it is a bad idea to involve people in every little detail. Jim needed some guidelines to help him adjust his natural tendencies without going overboard.
Three guidelines to determine when to involve others in decisions:
Buy-in: Do you . . . → Read More: Collaborate or Do It Alone? 3 Guidelines to Decide