Collaboration: A Different Leadership Style

Laura has experience with big four consulting organizations; was a managing director at a start-up international technology consulting organization that provided off-shore services; and currently is the owner of LAD Enterprizes, a management and information technology company. She provides project management services and training to assist organizations in realizing their goals through projects.

As you stare at the diagrams on the white board, concerns about the complexity of the next assignment flash in front of your eyes. The concerns include an inflexible timeline and multi-departmental global coordination efforts. You realize the project’s success requires creativity and innovation by the entire team, but the organization’s consensus-building culture will make it difficult--if not impossible--to meet required timelines and coordinate departmental efforts. To manage this project, a different leadership style is required, but what?

A close colleague suggests adapting and changing to a collaborative leadership style. She explained collaborative leadership is “the capacity to engage people and groups outside one’s formal control and inspire them to work toward common goals.” 1

When collaborating, everyone provides ideas and suggestions to resolve a challenge or meet a specific need--but not everyone needs to agree on the solution, as with consensus. Frequently, creativity and innovation leads to ideas and potential solutions never considered. An authority figure(s) decides on the solution after listening, then evaluating the ideas and suggestions. Nevertheless, everyone needs to understand the solution and reason. The colleague continued: It is a great approach when managing complex, multi-departmental projects that include team …

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"If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties."

- Francis Bacon