Eyes On: Leadership Styles- Part Three
Collaborative management is a leadership style that could completely transform the way in which your organisation operates and empowers your staff along the way - is it for you? Find out here.
Today we’re going to continue our series of content that takes an in-depth look at some of the most popular styles of management out there, as well as a list of some of the pros and cons that come with them. It’s very rare that one single style of leadership will successfully empower all of your staff without some form of detriment - to yourself, a small number of staff, the executive team, whomever- and that’s why it’s important to take part in an exercise like this. We have to first realise that an organisation is made up of a lot of moving parts, and what works for some may not work for others.
I’m in a fortunate position where I’ve been able to witness this take place first-hand in my own organisation, Best Practice, as well as examine how this transpires in the context of other organisations across a multitude of industries. While the ingredients might be slightly different depending on your size, operations and whether or not you’re a B-2-B organisation or not, there’s some common threads, observations and lessons to take away from analysing how different management styles can both inspire and isolate certain types of people in organisations, so let’s have a look at the collaborative management leadership style and see how it could transpire in the context of your organisation.
“Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much” Hellen Keller.
So, what is it? Well, to put it as simply as possible, collaborative management is a leadership style that firmly believes that two brains are better than one. If you’ve read any of my previous posts on leadership or particularly different styles of management, you’d know that I’m a fan of group collaboration when it comes to problem-solving and brainstorming further improvements for an organisation. Too often I’ve seen managers relegate certain staff members out of a meeting simply because of their position, keeping it to managers and executives only; I believe this defeats the purpose of a meeting that you want to be as impactful as possible. Leaders that embrace collaborative leadership invite as many people as feasible to a meeting because, after all, the collective knowledge of a group of people will almost always outweigh the knowledge of a single individual- no matter how much of a genius they are. When you invite a group of employees into a room to share their thoughts, experiences, disappointments, suggestions, concerns and solutions, the organisation is much more likely to move in the direction it needs to, as those ‘low level’ staff often have the most impactful insights into the day-to-day operations of your organisation.
“The collective knowledge of a group of people will almost always outweigh the knowledge of a single individual- no matter how much of a genius they are.” Kobi Simmat
One of the biggest benefits of this style of leadership is that it empowers your staff and encourages them to buy into the values and mission of the organisation through action, not simply lip service. If an employee sees their suggestions put into action in the organisation, they’ll feel as though they’re more invested, and you’re likely to both retain them and their best efforts as you move into the future. A downside, however, is that not all the suggestions put forward by staff are ‘keepers’, and management needs to, therefore, curate their input and weed out the useful input from things that are off the mark. This also requires a bit of empathy and caution on the part of the management team when rejecting some of their input, so you don’t isolate that employee and discourage them from speaking up in future meetings.
Often, ego can get in the way of this leadership style materialising in organisations- trust me, I’ve seen it a number of times. Some executives would prefer to leave a great idea in the meeting room simply because of the fact they didn’t come up with it themselves, so if there’s a culture of ego-driven decision making in the organisation, this might not be a productive leadership style. This is admittedly a shame, however, because I’ve witnessed first-hand suggestions from the ‘feet on the ground’ act to transform an organisation’s reputation or trust with customers.
Tara Phelan is the owner of Outside the Box and a business consultant who told Laura Handrick in her piece that “open information sharing with employees and partners makes us smarter, faster, and allows us to provide greater value to our clients. However, the collaborative leadership style may foster too many trying to lead the group, and not enough members willing to take a backseat and just do what it takes to get the job done. Regardless, the power that a collaborative approach brings to small businesses far outweighs the downsides.” This sentiment was echoed by Mark Tuchscherer, CEO of Geeks Chicago who said that “You are not the CEO of Google and if you act like it, people don’t want to work for you. Be a team member. Your employees will work harder and happier if you are on the same level as them.”
It’s quite ironic in a lot of ways that some of the most effective leadership styles actually require a leader to take a back seat and empower their staff to take the reigns when it comes to brainstorming and problem-solving. This isn’t always the case, however, which is what we’ll be discussing in the next eyes on leadership piece in just a few day’s time.
For now, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next piece.