Are South African heads of business ready for collaborative leadership? – Janice Sheckter

downloadRespected leading business publications have included articles on the evolution of leadership to a more collaborative style for the past few years. Forbes, HBR and others regularly include editorial around the requirement for open innovation, internal ‘crowd sourcing’ and the approach to relationship in addition to process. If we accept that our future is a collaborative one, we need to ask the question ‘Are our leaders ready for collaborative leadership’?

The required paradigm shift to a whole new way of thinking around the organisation structure and the style of leadership will be far from easy for many business leaders. It sees an end to the traditional command-and-control style, to the hierarchical structure and to information sharing. At the very core of this shift is the concept of trust, and without it, collaboration cannot be sparked.

Beyond this, the collaborative leader must embrace purpose and vision and it is purpose and vision expressed with a fervor that drives people to embrace it and act on it.

Collaborative leaders create more leaders within the organisation but do so while flattening the hierarchical structure. They encourage a culture of questions and they promote transparent decision-making. Collaborative leaders are clear about who makes decisions, how decisions will be made, who is accountable for the outcomes and how others can participate in the process. When decision-making processes are transparent people spend less time questioning decisions and commit their energy to implementation.

In an earlier blog, I cautioned against building your collaborative strategy on technology. Irony aside, as this is a service Indigo New Media offers, the reality is that collaboration is more than the technology that supports it. Collaboration is, first and foremost, a change in attitude and behaviour of people throughout an organisation and of course this is impossible without the right leadership in place. Successful collaboration is a human issue.

Janice Scheckter, MD of Indigo New Media, is a collaboration strategist working with a range of entities, from NPOs to commercial and municipal organisations, to build connected enterprises.

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