The Collaborative Leader

In the digital age of instant communication it is becoming more and more critical to get connected and stay connected. This applies not only in the technology sense but also professionally. For today’s leader (regardless of level) this is a bit of a no-brainer. However, what is not usually thought of is how to leverage this connectivity in day to day activity. According to a new HBR white paper a collaborative leader does four things well in a hyper connected business:

  1. make global connections that help them spot opportunities
  2. engage diverse talent from everywhere to produce results
  3. collaborate at the top to model expectations
  4. show a strong hand to speed decisions and ensure agility

For the modern leader to be successful they have to broaden their networks beyond the boundaries of their organisation and industry to engage with those from as many backgrounds as possible. Better yet they should look at bringing people into their organisation from other industries as the diversity of experience will promote discussion and innovation.

Sounds like commons sense to me… But then again there’s nothing common about it. Human nature means that we tend to gravitate toward and collaborate with those around us who are of a similar disposition, background and experience. While this makes life comfortable for us it does have a tendency to stifle innovation.

I think the key thing to remember is that consensus and collaboration are not the same thing. Collaboration is a way of a bringing diverse group together with the aim of developing and exploring new ideas and identifying those that are feasible. The ultimate decision on what to implement is left with the leader. The result can be an environment where innovation thrives and progress is rapid.

Seeking Consensus would mean bring together a group of stakeholders all with a different vested interest and attempting to get them to look at new ways of doing things and then to agree on which of those ideas should be pursued. Here the leader has little power or authority in the decision making process and has to use influence and compromise to get a decision.

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