Article: “Are You a Collaborative Leader?”
The continued growth of technology, specifically the invention of various social networks and applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and especially Chatter, proved the fact that more and more companies have already started to involve every employee in the process of decision making and discussing company’s major issues with the help of the latest technological innovations. In their article Are You a Collaborative Leader? Herminia Ibarra, Morten T. Hansen focus on the main skills a professional manager should acquire in order to effectively keep their teams connected and foster internal and external communication within the company.
The authors suggest four main areas that should be taken into consideration by every manager when learning how to deal with collaboration at the workplace. If a manager really wants to imply effective collaboration in the company, he or she should:
play global connector;
engage talent at the periphery;
collaborate at the top first;
show a strong hand when needed.
Referring to the notion of the term ‘connector’ presented in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, Herminia Ibarra, Morten T. Hansen demonstrate that it is crucial for any leader to be a kind of person who can connect the outside world to people inside the company. The ability to demonstrate an outstanding networking whenever it is possible is one of the most important skills any manager should possess. As authors claim, this will definitely help a company to develop, expand its boundaries and gather key persons or companies around it. Apart from meetings, trips, Internet and other typical areas, networking can also be productive in any other areas like adjacent industries, various hot spots or simply with anyone who has different background. All this will lead to innovation and new ideas in business, as well as perfect opportunities for finding partners.
One more way to ensure that a company is not lagging behind in implying collaborative style of management according to authors is engaging diverse talent. It presupposes working with and promoting people who have absolutely different educational and cultural background, ideas and way of thinking. As it is mentioned in the article, companies where one can observe any kind of nonnative speakers’ discrimination (as well as other kinds of discrimination) usually fail to be successful and innovative. In fact, the more employees with various backgrounds a company has, the more chances are there will be new ideas and innovative solutions.
Furthermore, the article states one more issue emerging in most companies – they fail to model collaboration at the top. The authors demonstrate with the help of examples that in case there are any argues between company’s divisions and they do not try to regulate the process of communication and collaboration, it will result in failure or just the company being stuck in its development. Thus, to keep all operations and projects in a company a coherent whole, an effective manager should care about a collaborative mindset at all levels. More importantly, all company’s divisions should be directed to reach common goals and communicate in order to do so. What is also crucial here is that despite the temptation to be focused on a performance itself, people, specifically managers, should better shift their energy and persistence to tasks with learning goals. Consequently, they will be able to learn more and explore new opportunities how a company can be managed more effectively.
The last but not the least area a manager should study inside out is showing a strong hand and not overdoing collaboration. Undoubtedly, the latter induce a desire to discuss and debate the ideas or suggestions. However, in case it comes to endless discussions, and very often to simply idle talk or demagogy, there should be a person who could stop all this and make a final decision. In such a way it will prevent a company from collaboration’s overuse and will result in quick and at the same time effective solutions at any level.
Comparing three different styles of leadership – command and control, consensus and collaborative - Herminia Ibarra, Morten T. Hansen characterize the latter as the most efficient for diverse groups and generally companies where innovation and creativity are of vital importance. Moreover, they emphasize on the importance of the collaborative way of management as a means to cross-company work, as well as a perfect way to share and achieve common goals.
I strongly believe that what the article suggests is very useful and valuable for any manager. However, to tell the truth, I cannot say I found anything innovative in the article – all the points suggested are well-known in management and, fortunately, are already being used in many companies.
At the same time, it was very useful to see a comparative table of different styles of management and realize that each of them is applicable to certain conditions and certain organizations.
I suppose that the authors forgot to mention one more very important thing about collaboration and especially regarding technological ways of communication between employees. What I mean is that the last principle mentioned in the article (showing a strong hand) will face a lot of troubles when it comes to online communication. To my mind, online collaboration is a separate, absolutely unique way to engage everybody in conversation and discussion, so apparently it requires a certain set of instructions itself. I would even suggest a new position in a company for a person who would deal with online company’s communication. This would ensure that the employees communicate efficiently, but at the same time only the main ideas and suggestions would be retrieved and there would always be someone who is in charge of company’s chatting.
Generally speaking, the article provides the readers with a very modern and effective theory of collaboration at any level. What I also praise about the article is the fact that it criticizes any kind of discrimination at the workplace and even more – it calls to use people with different backgrounds as an extremely valuable asset for a company, ensuring tolerate and equal attitude to every person who makes their contribution to the company’s development.