“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
~ Margaret Mead
You understand that your organization is a system of relationships and that those relationships are the glue that holds the organization together. Anyone can be collaborative leader — no matter what your role or position may be. As a collaborative leader, you have the opportunity to create cohesive communities, whether your teams are co-located or geographically dispersed across the globe.
If you consistently work hard to ensure your organization operates within a collaborative context, you may feel overwhelmed with the complexity of the system – while at the same time feeling excited and proud of what your teams are accomplishing as they work together across boundaries and borders. As you continue to negotiate and navigate through your global environment, it is always in your best interest to remember some fundamental truths:
1. You Are Not In Control.
You never have been and you never will be. It doesn’t matter who you are. You cannot control other people’s actions or reactions in any situation. You can’t mandate discretionary effort or force people to be engaged. People might be compliant, but they only give their discretionary effort to the things that are important to them. According to John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, “You cannot create collaboration if you think leadership is about control.” Making the shift from a “command and control” to a “collaborative” mindset is not easy, but it is crucial to creating a collaborative workplace.
2. You Do Not Have All The Answers.
Critical information is held across the organization – often in very specific stovepipes. Learn to ask really good questions and actively listen to the responses you receive. A good question that is actively engaged is worth a lot more than self-knowledge because it opens up possibilities for creative new ideas and solutions… not to mention building trust and motivation across your teams.
3. Engaged People Bring Value.
Through involvement, your teams will develop a deeper understanding and commitment to solving real issues, as well as an increased dedication to achieving organizational goals. As a result, they are more likely to collaborate and create more solution-oriented output in partnership with their teammates. Inviting people to participate in decision-making creates ownership and builds leadership capacity for the future – while at the same time increasing collaboration and motivation levels. When people know their contributions matter (and they know they have been heard) they will openly collaborate because respect and trust are byproducts of open, honest communication.
4. Technology Creates Opportunity.
Leveraged correctly, technology has the capacity to facilitate communication across boundaries & borders. Despite common stovepipe thinking, the organization benefits when information is openly shared. People can do their jobs better when they have easy access to the information they need. It suddenly becomes possible to create productive partnerships across the global enterprise – evolving competitive advantage toward collaborative advantage.
5. Diversity Is The Foundation Of Innovation.
When diverse perspectives are combined from around the world, discussions are richer, more robust and more relevant – we find better solutions as a collaborative unit than we do as divided individuals. Conflict and creative disagreement, when focused on issues (not people), can function as an incubator to create innovative new ideas, approaches and solutions.
6. Leveraging The Entire Network Is A Sustainable Advantage.
In hierarchical organizations, the flow of information and decisions tends to be linear. Although these organizations have advantages in terms of efficiency, there is a huge cost of lost opportunity in not having ready access to critical resources. Often innovation and creative solutions emerge as a result of the informal collaborations that occur between individuals with different perspectives that reside across diverse functions and cultures.
7. Go Slow In Order To Go Fast.
Taking time to plan in the beginning will increase your likelihood of success. It can be challenging to take the time to bring everyone onboard at the front end of the process. However, if you don’t, there’s a significant price to pay – it’s costly and demotivating if everyone is not on the same page and committed to the collaborative process up front. Take care in the beginning and the end will take care of itself.
8. The Health Of The Whole And The Health Of The Parts Are Interdependent.
The organization does not make the person – the person makes the organization. Above all, value your people. Without them you do not have an organization… no one to collaborate with. The well-being of an organization is dependent on the well-being of its members.
In order to be a collaborative leader, it’s important that you continuously stress team performance. It is always a good idea to encourage workers to perform at their personal best, however they should also be made to feel as if they are part of something greater than themselves. They need to realize that they are part of a team and they will ultimately be judged according to how well they will be able to perform as team players.
What Will You Do To Ensure You Are Propagating Collaboration In Your Organization?
Please engage the discussion and let us know how you will enable successful collaboration in your organization. Do you need an expert to help you leverage global collaboration in your organization? Contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next week for the next installment of Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.