There are 4 behavioural attributes that collaborative leaders show:

  1. the belief that two heads is better than one
  2. the belief that they don’t hold monopoly of the truth
  3. the willingness to open their thinking to the scrutiny of others
  4. the willingness to share credit or glory with others

Leaders wishing to foster, develop and strengthen these behaviours in those they lead, will need to build  ‘collaborative architecture’ within their companies. This will involve 3 priorities:

  • At the organisation design level: implementing a distributed leadership model with self-directed teams and participative management
  • At the competency level: training and rewarding listening, curiosity, improvisation,  questioning, reframing and systems thinking
  • At the leadership style level: practicing a more emergent style of leadership rather than an authoritative style

Trying to introduce elements of the above architecture in a piece meal or programmatic way will not generate lasting results. Change needs to be integrated and effected at all 3 levels. Companies like Google, Semco, WL Gore, MARS, John Lewis Partnership and an ever-growing group of companies have shown that the effort pays off in a range of ways including keeping those companies at the edge of innovation and breakthrough thinking.

Written by Meena Thuraisingham, Director and Principal, TalentInvest, March 2011

Written by Meena Thuraisingham
Director and Principal, Talent Invest

Meena Thuraisingham is a consultant, author, executive coach and thought leader in the area of People and Culture. An organisational psychologist by training, she founded TalentInvest, a niche consulting practice, advising global clients in the UK, Asia and Australia in Capability and Culture. Meena is also a regular speaker internationally on leadership effectiveness and culture change.

Her published books are The Secret Life of Decisions, Careers Unplugged and Derailed!. Get Your Copy Today