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 vision and the people. Roles and responsibilities shift as the nature of the work changes, and leadership emerges according to what is required.
3. Know the business and the landscape.
Always learning, they are interested in a wide variety of topics. Not only do they understand their business, they keep abreast of events and ideas outside their own area of expertise in order to see trends and possibilities.
4. Live in the land of curiosity.
Instead of seeking quick answers, they consider the larger picture and long-term implications. They ask good questions that open up possibilities and that help people find their own solutions. They seek information from multiple sources.
5. Ask for directions when driving.
Not only are they willing to ask for help, they are not afraid to be vulnerable and fully human. They know their limitations and what they don’t know, and they are willing to rely on others for support.
6. Genuinely care about people.
They respect people as fellow human beings and care about their health and well-being. They connect with people at a personal level, regardless of their role.
7. Know who they are and where they stand.
They earn respect and trust through the integrity of their character. They hold themselves accountable for the organization and are willing to take a stand and make tough decisions when necessary.
8. Create an infrastructure for sharing information and learning.
They support an open flow of information and the distribution of power and decision-making. They make full use of all tools to open communication channels, from in-person meetings to creative uses of technology to engage in conversation at a distance.
9. Demand dialogue.
They bring people together to engage in dialogue around mutual concerns. They provide opportunities to develop cultural awareness and communication skills so people can engage in productive dialogue and creative problem solving.
10. Expect creative solutions, not compromise.
They are not afraid of conflict. They equip those involved in disagreements to manage it themselves with the mandate to seek creative solutions aligned with the vision that benefit the organization as a whole.
11. Seek out diversity.
They celebrate differences and use diversity as a strategic advantage. They foster innovation through a diverse workforce and bring people with diverse perspectives together to find creative solutions.
12. Open boundaries while maintaining separateness.
Not only do they collaborate internally, they collaborate with other organizations. As described by Rosabeth Moss Kanter in The Collaborative Advantage, they partner with suppliers, and even competitors, freely sharing information, while maintaining clear signs of continuing independence for all. In other words, other communities are respected, even when competing, and seen from a bigger picture as part of an even larger community.