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Aug. 2009 - Collaboration: Part 2—Showing the Way

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.

August 2009

Collaboration:  Part 2—Showing the Way

Last month I defined collaboration as “working with others toward a common goal” and said leaders are ineffective if they fail to get their followers to collaborate or pull together, much as a sports team does. Here are three more things a leader can do to promote collaboration.

Create a Climate of Collaboration.  A collaborative climate requires trust which depends upon (1) total honesty, integrity and truthfulness, (2) consistency or predictability of behavior and (3) respect, where everyone is treated with dignity and fairness.  The leader bears responsibility for creating this climate where team members work well together.  To create such a climate, leaders must collaborate with their followers.  Even when the leader must act alone, as is sometimes the case, successful leaders involve subordinates as much as possible and communicate to them that they value their subordinate’s inputs.

Set the Example for Collaboration.  Team members will observe how their leaders interact with peers.  If leaders collaborate with peers, followers will likely do the same; if leaders don’t, then followers will likely follow suit.  Never underestimate the power of example.  The great American Poet, Edgar Guest, wrote: “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day . . . the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true, but I  . . . get my lessons by observing what you do.”

Stress the importance of Diversity in Collaboration.  Communicate the importance of valuing diverse people, personalities, and ideas—not just because it is the right thing to do, but because this action yields better results.  A homogenous group yields homogeneous solutions that have not been subjected to diverse viewpoints—decisions and solutions that are often less rigorous and unable to withstand the pressures and stresses of real world application.  Preach diversity by both your actions and words.

Groups will not be successful if they don’t collaborate—and the leader must show the way.
John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

December 2006 - Motivating Others: Communicate Clearly
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