#ebbf25 presenter and Deloitte Canada partner Nousha Etemad Ram introduced the topic of “collaborative leadership, how does it apply to today’s hyper-connected and fast changing environment”
Highlights from the interaction during this last online event:
“I have been exploring with my clients the concept of collabrative leadership specially in large projects that create large transformations in the organization and society seeing how we could harness the value of diversity not only from their own employess but also harnessing the diversity of the regulators, suppliers and other stakeholders. There we asked two key questions: why is collaboration at the hearft of innovative problem solving and growth? And what is the role of trust when we thinking of collaborative leadership?”
40% of the world population now has internet access whilst just ten years ago in 1995 less than 1% had access. In 2014, 3 billion people had internet access and this implies a huge shift due to a massively wider access to information. How do you harness so much information and access to so many opinions, coming together trying to solve problems? New models of leadership are necessary to harness all this potential.
Until recently the traditional working pattern with people and teams working in silos was rewarded. Since the industrial revolution the traditional approach would be to hold information and have power and make decision based on the info you owned and also based on the fact that lower level employees have no information, don’t need to know and just need to do what we tell them.
Silos-based leadership is an obsolete model with faster matrixes of interconnected information now available to all, what is the new leadership model?
Collaborative leadership has been around for a while and has assisted a number of organizations to be more innovative and allowing them to create more wealth and create more value. Not just monetary wealth, value for society, gnerating that value comes from cross funciotnal teams who bring much needed creativity and innovation.
Why hasn’t this apparently logical 21st century-adaptive collaborative leadership not taken over yet?
The main challenge comes from senior traditional leaders specially those who climbed the corporate ladder in silos-mode and have a natural command and control style. They are having the biggest problems in adjusting to new realities.
Another concern is that leading from consensus and applying a fully collaborative and consultative decision making style can sometimes end in decision making grinding to a halt by too much consensus seeking.
the key is to find the right balance between finding consensus and moving forward
Too many of today’s meetings and leadership processes are focused on making decisions. A key element of coming together and collaborating is often lost : learning as opposed to decisions taken is an ideal outcome of consultative decision making. By increasing the learning and the increase in knowledge makes individuals on the team better prepared to take decisions that are the best for the situation and for the team in the future.
Using agile , building it in this concept of learning has people in one participant’s team, come together every three weeks and in very meeting: they take the decision to do something but also then get back together to see what they learnt from it.
learning as opposed to taking decisions is an often overlooked desired outcome of consultative decision making
Another factor that is pushing this collaborative style of leadership is today’s new generation of employees and new types of employees e.g. millenials , what kinds of environments do we create to adapt to these new employees? and how to redefine the role of leadship? what is a leader? from control a social and economic exchange between employee and leader you get paid and work – to what is emerging now as the role of leader not just from top to bottom, instead a leaders serving the needs of different employees. Moreover we are moving from having a single leader at the top to a number of individuals leading different areas , which interconnect with other areas at different levels in the organization.
The new leader creates networks, connects the dots and supports the team working on the innovative solutions
New leaders trust their teams to do the right things, so the task of the leader is to inspire, guide, observe and support the team connecting it to the resources it needs and might not have access to. But leaders still often fall back to the old command decision making style when they see that connections are not working. So what are some ways to improve the likelihood of success of collaborative leadership?
You need to start by setting a clear set of rules and guidelines to assist the collaborative environment and the rules need to be agreed and people abide by those rule, there is not guarantee but if guidelines are shared, this is a solid way to make progress with everyone understanding the goal to be achieved and the learning process that allows it to happen.
The moral leadership is of course the safest way to install a successful collaborative environment.
collaborative leadership we agreed was also when we all cooperate and do so with equal rights, this implies an absence of leadership and this is happening more and more often and society and also in some companies, Zappos being mentioned as an example. For example the refugee crisis or the Arab spring, what is common in these two civil movements is the absence of a clear distinctive leader. Modern technologies allow people to connect and unite and do something to allow the change they want to see happen. When political or other kinds of leaders fail to act, ordinary people in society and organizations are more and more often feeling the urge to and have the power to help and do what they think is the right thing to do.
To allow a healthy transition to this open collaborative model you need to
create a culture of ownership and accountability
Leadership was control of people because of the underlying idea of the human being: without control human beings will work for their own personal interest and not in the interest of the organization. But instead let’s work in a presumption that everyone working here is working for betterment of the whole, then we have a totally different idea of the organization, its people and its structure. A very different dynamic will start and will create a collaborative atmosphere to achieve a common good.
We are looking for a new leadership that brings down barriers, believes in the human nobility of the individual and allows people and organisations to learn and thrive