Makarios Consulting Blog

Collaborative Leadership: Take Baby Steps

Last week, we discussed the pros and cons of the five main styles of leadership: Bureaucratic, Supportive, Directive, Traditional, and Collaborative. We made the case that collaborative leadership offers the most positive benefit to both companies and staff. And so the next logical question becomes, “How do you adopt a collaborative leadership style?”

Step one is to clarify your own dominant leadership style. Make sure you’re thorough and honest in your self-evaluation, and seek the evaluation and input of others. You may not like what you find, but don’t despair. This is the perfect opportunity for positive change.

Step two is to pick a ‘pilot’ collaborative project you plan to lead. Keep in mind that you will not magically become a collaborative leader overnight. To get started, write down exactly what you are going to do differently and what you hope to accomplish. Be precise. For reference, here are seven examples of commitments that make up the collaborative leadership style. You can draw upon these ideas to design more specific tasks and goals for yourself:

  • I will maximize the involvement of my team members in the planning, goal-setting, and execution phases of this project.
  • I will encourage and reward creativity and initiative from my team members.
  • I will make available to my team the necessary resources, e.g., training, funds, and personnel, available to my team to support them in their efforts.
  • I will integrate myself as an active team member when appropriate.
  • I will encourage my team members to draw upon their special knowledge and skills.
  • I will look out for tasks that present developmental opportunities for team members and assign these tasks to ensure their professional growth.
  • I will provide regular performance feedback to my team.

By writing down what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and the results you are driving for, you open the door to accountability.

By making a list, you are taking the next step toward adopting a collaborative style. And you are holding yourself accountable! Just remember you cannot stop here. You must engage the team you’re leading:

  • Inform the team that you are trying to improve your leadership style
  • Explain what you intend to do differently.
  • Make clear the deliverables you hope to achieve, both on the production and people sides
  • Request feedback and follow up
  • Reflect and evaluate with your time after the project is completed

You will not be perfect on your first go-around. This applies in any aspect of life when we try to initiate change and start on a new path. Even if you’re ‘all thumbs’ on this first collaborative project, and even if you lack the raving reviews you’d hoped for, remain positive. The key is to analyze your production and your people after this experiment, and adjust your techniques for the next time.

Practice makes perfect and we assure you it is worth it. You’ll be glad you took the first step toward improving yourself, your company, and your staff.

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