4 Steps Toward Collaborative Leadership

Ferguson Protest

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

My Leadership Lessons as Executive Director

Berrett-Koehler Foundation Board of Directors July 2014

Today begins my last week as executive director of the Berrett-Koehler Foundation. This is the second time I’ve done this with an organization—served as executive director during the startup phase—and I’ve learned many lessons along the way.

My involvement began two years ago when Steve Piersanti, president of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, asked me to help create a new organization that would further their mission of helping to create a world that works for all in a way that went beyond what Berrett-Koehler could do as a publisher.

I began by facilitating a design team. After research and serious consideration, we determined the focus would be to support the next generation of leaders in putting into practice the systems-changing ideas and tools that authors were writing about.

. . . → Read More: My Leadership Lessons as Executive Director

What I Learned about Vision Casting

Guest Post by Dan Rockwell @LeadershipFreak (Jedi Master of leadership lessons in less than 300 words)

I thought vision casting was about me. Jesse Lyn Stoner taught me that vision is about us.

I used to craft the vision and spring it on my team. I’d declare, “Here’s where we’re going.”

It’s the only model I ever saw.

Casting vision as a solo act reflects top-down, disconnected leadership. In the end, it isn’t leadership at all. It’s declaration.

Vision that’s about us takes

openness,

courage,

candor,

transparency, and

flexibility.

The declarative approach is easier at first, but ineffective in the long run.

I haven’t fully learned the lesson. I still . . . → Read More: What I Learned about Vision Casting

An Interview with Jake Jacobs on Real Time Strategic Change

RTSC Jake Jacobs Webinar

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

Emergent Leadership Topples the Pyramid

Stomp the pyramid

What’s your view of leadership? If you’re like most people, you have an underlying belief that leaders should be out in front of the line, leading the way.

The Hierarchical View of Leadership

In the traditional, hierarchical view, senior leaders are at the top of the organization and ensure the organization fulfills its mission effectively.

There are differing views about how leaders should behave – the best leadership style. For example, you might think leaders should be directive or participative or both depending on the situation.

Although Steve Jobs, Hillary Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Sheryl Sandberg, and Howard Schultz have very different leadership styles, they all have one important thing in common – their role as a leader is to stand in front of their organization . . . → Read More: Emergent Leadership Topples the Pyramid

Try Collaborative Change for a Change

LGI Room Conversation

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

Stewardship Is an Alternative to Leadership

Stewardship

Stewardship is about choosing service over self-interest. It begins with a willingness to be deeply accountable for a body larger than yourself – for a team, an organization, a community.

Imagine how strong your organization would be if everyone were deeply committed and accountable for its success.

These are not new ideas. The evidence and research results are in, and we know for a fact that partnership and participation are the management strategies that create high-performance workplaces.

Words like empowerment, collaboration and partnership have been tossed around for years.

So how are today’s organizations and institutions doing?

Here in the United States, the answer is, “not so well.” According to Peter Block, author of the seminal bestseller Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest, “A few companies . . . → Read More: Stewardship Is an Alternative to Leadership

Let's Stop Confusing Cooperation and Teamwork with Collaboration

Collaboration Coordination and Teamwork

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

Collaboration Is the Remedy for Polarization

Polarization creates "win-lose"

 

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