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April 2010 Issue --> Small Business Advice Article
 
Creating a Culture of Collaborative Leadership
 
By: Deborah Chima

The world economic crisis has brought to fore the realization that times are indeed changing. The economic structures have collapsed and the world is trying to adapt to change. The different leadership styles that have been adopted have proven to be insufficient and maybe inappropriate for this generation. In the Industrial age, leadership was mostly authoritarian, hierarchical and very much dependent on a leader who is in command. The leader held the reins, controlled the system and had all the access to information. The rank and file worked hard for merit and promotion with the potential to go up higher in the corporate ladder.

Recent developments show that the hierarchical and authoritarian approach is no longer enough considering the rapidly changing social and business structures because of the Web which gives everyone access to information. Both public and private entities recognize that there is a need for a different approach in order to adapt to the times and confront complex issues. The linear workflow needs to give way to collaboration. This is collaborative leadership.

So, what is collaborative leadership and how does it respond to change? It is a given that organizations must go with change and lead. There is a need for today's leaders to create a culture of collaboration within their organizations. Instead of just having a leader with all the answers and ideas, most answers can be found from the people within the organization. These ideas can flow freely provided that trust, appreciation, openness and transparency had been established within the ranks. Ideas can be generated with the best minds and right talent put together. It is best to pool ideas, resources, efforts and commitment of several minds than relying on only one point of view. Instead of being authoritarian and in total control, a leader can facilitate open exchange of ideas and encourage collaboration. This will provide the venue for creative discussion and sharing of solutions plus maximum participation from everyone.

This generation of workers is waiting for a chance to share their ideas and show their leadership potential. A leader who can listen to everyone's perspective as much as possible will definitely boost everyone's morale. By understanding and acknowledging the strengths of everyone, the best ideas can be drawn out. This will then pave the way for a new way of doing things - working collaboratively - and will ensure business results being achieved.

As a leader, you will find yourself at the crossroads of leadership - you have to choose when to lead and when to relinquish control to encourage everyone to collaborate. However, you have to be aware that changing leadership styles is never easy and cannot be done overnight. But at the end of the day, we have to understand and appreciate that only through working and leading collaboratively can we climb out of the economic rut that we are in. Ultimately, creating a culture for collaboration will always be worth it.

About the Author:

Deborah Chambers Chima
is a leadership coach, speaker and trainer. For more about collaborative leadership visit her blog Leadership Solutions.
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