In this guest post, Ken Blanchard shares some insights regarding collaboration.
If you think collaboration is just a corporate buzzword, think again. In today’s diverse, globalized workforce, collaboration must be part of the culture of every organization that wants to succeed. Yet when collaboration doesn’t work out, many people and departments blame someone else—the other guy, team, or department.
In order for collaboration to be part of the DNA of your organization, collaboration must begin with you—with me—with every person who wants to see a positive, productive change in the way business is done. Collaboration is an inside-out proposition. It is actually a mindset that begins inside, with your heart—who you are as a collaborator—your character and intentions.
When your heart is right, you see the importance of looking outside yourself and utilizing diverse perspectives in decision making and problem solving. You understand how an atmosphere of safety and trust can foster innovation and creativity when others feel safe to contribute without fear of judgment. Now that you are thinking in a new way, collaboration can move to your head—what you know—your beliefs and attitudes about collaboration.
There are two parts to collaborative leadership. The first part is vision and direction—and it’s the leader’s responsibility to ensure the vision and direction of the group, team, department, or organization are clear. It’s important, though, that others are involved in crafting a clear purpose, values, and goals—all of which are necessary to really define the group’s vision and direction—because people are more likely to commit to something if they have helped to create it. A clear purpose unites everyone around a common objective; values guide behavior; and goals provoke action.
Once the vision and direction are clear, it’s time for implementation—the second part of collaborative leadership. This is where collaboration moves outside to your hands—what you do as a collaborator—your actions and behaviors.
Implementing collaboration requires the leader to step back and take more of a responsive coaching role, encouraging open communication between group members. Withholding information or hoarding resources that could benefit the whole group is the antithesis of collaborative behavior. Cross-functional networking, using technology to spread information faster to all group members, and sharing personal information are all ways that group members and direct reports can implement the collaborative vision. In this way, they become responsible and empowered self leaders. At this point, leaders are there to coach for competence, build trust, and cheer on collaborative work rather than oversee it. The weight of leadership is now balanced so leaders can set their ego aside and let the team deliver.
When a workplace has a culture of collaboration, productivity increases, morale improves, every individual—from entry level to C-level—benefits, and the organization enjoys breakthrough results. Remember: collaboration begins with you!
Ken Blanchard is one of the most influential leadership experts in the world. He has co-authored more than 60 books, including the bestselling One Minute Manager. Jane Ripley is co-founder of WiredLeaders.com, a leadership development company focusing on collaboration, and works with the Ken Blanchard Companies. Dr. Eunice Parisi-Carew is a speaker, highly regarded management consultant and trainer, bestselling author, and no-nonsense businesswoman. They recently collaborated together on their new book, Collaboration Begins with You, which you can learn more about by visiting collaborationbeginswithyou.com