Collaboration: The Leadership Skill of the Future

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” ~Charles Dickens

Too often, senior leaders are focused on protecting their turf by relying on a leadership style of using command and control tactics instead of seeking opportunities to influence the behaviors of others by teaching collaboration. They seem to have forgotten the basic management principle that you are only as good as your people make you. Today’s diverse workplace demands that leaders effectively utilize the skills of their people. The power of working collaboratively instead of in isolation is not being emphasized. As a result, many workers are losing faith that they can achieve their career aspirations and goals as they see opportunities to demonstrate leadership diminish. .

Too many organizations are filled with people who have the title of leader, yet these leaders fail to understand that emphasizing the leadership skill of working collaboratively is the secret ingredient that can lead us out of the current state of chaos.

As we come to the end of a year that most certainly will be recorded in history as one of the most challenging times within the business community, leaders must take the time to think about what has occurred. Reflecting on the positives and analyzing your lessons learned this year is a productivity strategy everyone must execute.

What is really going on in today’s workplace as a result of the unprecedented pace of change most organizations are experiencing?

There is a lot of uncertainty. There is a lot of angst and stress. Some people are still holding back on seeking opportunities to enhance their visibility as they take a wait-and-see approach. Some people are burning out from all the additional responsibilities with few resources and no additional compensation.

Despite these challenges I believe the time to establish your leadership brand has never been better. Yes, even in today’s fast paced, business environment. It won’t be easy but it is doable if you have a strategic approach that will provide leadership solutions to resolve the challenges.

Here is a reality check. Today’s workplace is in dire need for real leaders to boldly step up and lead. Quickly.

Unfortunately, many people struggle with believing in the integrity of their leaders. They have seen too many leaders take no prisoners as they aggressively work their “it’s all about me” agenda to get to their next career level. They have watched as the inequalities of upward advancement go to those whose only contribution appears to be their connection to a senior leader.

As a result, people have a hard time believing that if they continue to give their all to help the organization succeed, they will be afforded an equal opportunity for their leadership goals and career aspirations to be met.

Let’s face it. We have a trust and morale crisis on our hands in the workplace.

To make matters even more complicated; there is more diversity in play than ever before with four generations of people in the workplace striving to either establish themselves or hold on to what they have worked so hard for. These generational dynamics have been in play for a few years now. However; this year a new reality has been introduced. As organizations shed jobs at an unprecedented pace, there are only a limited number of leadership positions available.

Senior management must deal with this phenomenon soon if they expect to keep the most talented people on board once the economy turns around. Ignoring this business challenge in the hope that things will turn around soon is not a viable strategy.

For example, as the younger generation enters the workplace they are often unwillingly to patiently wait their turn to get a leadership position of influence. They aggressively go after getting their seat at the table. On the other hand, many baby boomers are not able to retire given the state of the economy, so they are not willing to relinquish their hold onto power. This dynamic can become a train wreck which will affect an organizations’ results if initiatives are not implemented to address the expectation differences and professional development needs of everyone.

So what is the solution to our business challenges?

I believe a viable solution to these potential conflict and productivity issues, is to have senior management create more opportunities for collaboration, so everyone feels valued for their contributions to the overall organization.

Today’s diverse and complicated workplace is crying out for leaders who understand that collaboration is now the new normal of how to achieve business results. To understand what collaboration really means let’s first talk about what collaboration is not.

Collaboration is not:

Using hierarchical power
Ruling by intimidation or position power
Expecting your ideas to always be selected

Collaboration is:

Listening to everyone’s perspective whenever possible
Sincerely being open to trying new ways of doing things
Understanding and acknowledging the strengths of everyone so that the best ideas can be drawn out

WANTED: Leaders who understand that future success depends on a leader’s ability to collaborate and engage at every level of the organization.

Today’s visionary leaders must understand that constant change is here to stay as the global marketplace continues to shift and impact how a business must operate in order to survive. Today’s successful leaders must openly embrace the “possibilities” that can result from this constant change, instead of expending unnecessary energy fighting against a tide in an attempt to bring the good old days back.

The opportunity to stand out in a crowded marketplace and create a new path to success has never been greater.

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