Articles

ARTICLES

ArticlesLeadership, competitiveness and best practices on business management

Management Tips

MANAGEMENT TIPS

Management TipsPractical tools to enhance management and leadership skills

Education Resources

EDUCATION RESOURCES

Education ResourcesNews, corporate training and business education resources

By The Numbers

Workplace Survey, Findings

1.Workers are struggling to work effectively. 

When focus is compromised in pursuit of Collaboration, neither works well.

2. Effective workplaces balance focus and collaboration. 

Workplaces designed to enable collaboration without sacrificing employees’ ability to focus are more successful.

3. Choice drives performance and innovation. 

Employers who provide a spectrum of choices for when and where to work are seen as more innovative and have higher-performing employees.

 

Newsletter Subscriber

Anti-Spam Test: 2+3=
Name:
Email:

THREE CORE CAPABILITIES TO FOSTER COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP

System leaders differ widely in personality and style, but they have a remarkably similar impact. Over time, their profound commitment to the health of the whole radiates to nurture similar commitment in others. Their ability to see reality through the eyes of people very different from themselves encourages others to be more open as well.

They build relationships based on deep listening, and networks of trust and collaboration start to flourish. They are so convinced that something can be done that they do not wait for a fully developed plan, thereby freeing others to step ahead and learn by doing. Indeed, one of their greatest contributions can come from the strength of their ignorance, which gives them permission to ask obvious questions and to embody an openness and commitment to their own ongoing learning and growth that eventually infuse larger change efforts.

 


As these system leaders emerge, situations previously suffering from polarization and inertia become more open, and what were previously seen as intractable problems become perceived as opportunities for innovation. Short-term reactive problem solving becomes more balanced with long-term value creation. And organizational self-interest becomes re-contextualized, as people discover that their and their organization’s success depends on creating well-being within the larger systems of which they are a part.

Peter Senge, Hal Hamilton, & John Kania, from Stanford University, suggest three core capabilities that leaders should develop in order to foster collaborative leadership.


1. Visualizing the larger system
The first is the ability to see the larger system. In any complex setting, people typically focus their attention on the parts of the system most visible from their own vantage point. This usually results in arguments about who has the right perspective on the problem. Helping people see the larger system is essential to building a shared understanding of complex problems. This understanding enables collaborating organizations to jointly develop solutions not evident to any of them individually and to work together for the health of the whole system rather than just pursue symptomatic fixes to individual pieces.


2. Fostering reflection and communication
The second capability involves fostering reflection, open communication and more generative conversations. Reflection means thinking about our thinking, holding up the mirror to see the taken-for-granted assumptions we carry into any conversation and appreciating how our mental models may limit us. Deep, shared reflection and open communication are  critical step in enabling groups of organizations and individuals to actually “hear” a point of view different from their own, and to appreciate emotionally as well as cognitively each other’s reality. This is an essential doorway for building trust where distrust had prevailed and for fostering collective creativity.


3. Building positive vision for the future
The third capability centers on shifting the collective focus from reactive problem solving to co-creating the future. Change often starts with conditions that are undesirable, but artful system leaders help people move beyond just reacting to these problems to building positive visions for the future. This typically happens gradually as leaders help people articulate their deeper aspirations and build confidence based on tangible accomplishments achieved together. This shift involves not just building inspiring visions but facing difficult truths about the present reality and learning how to use the tension between vision and reality to inspire truly new approaches.


Much has been written about these leadership capabilities in the organizational learning literature and the tools that support their development. But much of this work is still relatively unknown or known only superficially to those engaged in collaborative systemic change efforts.