Agile, Organization Development, Personal, Software Development

Collaborative Leadership – Leadership by Influence

Command and Control style leadership is outdated. Gone are the days when an organization look up to the leader and expect all the answers – or have leaders that expect to answer everything.  It limits what an organization can accomplish. Leaders who expect to have their fingers in every hole and micro manage stops much of the organization on the track from making/owning any decision on their own. There is more second guessing as people get more concerned with what the leader “think” rather than arriving at brighter solution together.

Command and control structures are autocratic and implies go around dictating what needs done. In the current day and age it should be more about consult and develop.

We now live in the age of crowd sourcing and working with web of relationships spanning complex business networks of employees; customers; partners or other stakeholders. It is the age of co-creation where people are empowered to tap into all available sources needed to arrive at the best possible solution. Organizations are far too complex these days – evolving through multiple acquisitions; increasingly distributed; remote; decentralized and global. Time and cost remains on limited supply and one  just can’t go around telling people what to do. Nor a leader should assume the role of a super hero by making every decision – every time.

So for an organization to be successful and to scale it need to run in an “All-wheel drive mode” rather than “Front wheel drive mode”. Leaders have the responsibility to hire the bright people; put right process in place that remove silos and bring agility; establish key expectations and let the organization bright talent do their job. Leader should empower the team; coach them; but don’t meddle or micro manage them.

This require change in Leadership expectation to be more of leading by influence. Collaborative leadership is about building relationships; championing others causes and trusting the right people to do their job. It is about seeing others ideas succeed and joining causes that help create a brighter outcome while influencing individual perspective.

It is important to understand though that this is not about painting an altruistic view of the world where leaders are simply figure-head. Delegation does not absolve any leader of their responsibility. Leaders have to make their own set of decisions that they need to deliberate with their team to carefully arrive at the outcome that usually has broad organization impact. It just means make your limited set of decisions and leave the rest to the trusted organization.

To set the stage for collaborative leadership – it is vital that the leaders let go off their pride and any past inhibition. It start with putting their trust in the people that they work with. This is a hard transition for a lot of grey hair leaders – who grew out of Command and Control structure. It is hard for several reasons – (i) that is what they learned as they grew up in such a structure (ii) their mentors who typically were extremely successful ran their organization in command and control fashion (iii) school of thought existed and management gurus spoke to the effectiveness of such command and control structure….and lastly (iv) the hardest thing here for any person is to change what made them successful thus far.

It is easy to make a case when something is broken – but how to change something that has actually made you successful. How do you let go off such traits that you pride and your ability of getting things done by running tight ship? Now before I go forward – my own personal acknowledgement – I had been part of this camp as well and learned first hand (probably continue to learn) the challenges involved as part of this transition.

I suggest the transition from Command and Control to more Collaborative style leadership starts with an acknowledgement. Just like any alcoholic anonymous participant – first acknowledge the individual leadership challenge as one attempts to change individual behavior. One need to be willing to change and embrace personal growth to be credible here.

In the next post – I will share few things that I have been doing more consciously over the last couple of years than ever before as I reflect on my own leadership journey.

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4 thoughts on “Collaborative Leadership – Leadership by Influence”

  1. Alok

    You are right – it is the colloborative style which takes an organization much further as it has the added sum of all the people’s talent rather than just one leader’s talent. The key is what you have stated :
    Leaders have the responsibility to hire the bright people; put right process in place that remove silos and bring agility; establish key expectations and let the organization bright talent do their job. Leader should empower the team; coach them; but don’t meddle or micro manage them.

    I now look forward to the future write ups on this topic with eagerness.

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