Are you a collaborative leader?

Are you a collaborative leader asks William Buist founder of xTEN Club

Collaborative leaders have vision, commitment and confidence. They’re traits that foster high achievement, says William Buist

Jeremy Clarkson. Crisp sandwiches. “The One and Only” by Chesney Hawkes. We all have our guilty pleasures. And whatever yours are, consider adding this hoary business trope: Don’t be a boss, be a leader.

But before you roll your eyes as though you’ve just been advised to buy a Best of Phil Collins CD, consider these Phil facts: worldwide sales (as a solo artist) of 150 million; three UK number ones; seven US number ones; four Brit awards; five Grammys; two Golden Globes; and an Oscar.

Just because something is overexposed doesn’t mean that it’s rubbish.

The trouble with the phrase ‘Don’t be a boss, be a leader’ is, it’s big on snappy phraseology, but slim on detail. When people use it, what are they actually trying to say?

How about this? Effective leaders are collaborative leaders. They have vision, presence, commitment and confidence. And those central traits help them to foster achievement within their organisations.

The vision of a collaborative leader

A collaborative leader understands the vision of the company and can communicate it effectively. When Douglas Conant began working to turn around the struggling Campbell Soup Company, he focused much of his energy on improving employee engagement. He personally sent out dozens of thank-you notes each week to employees to let them know that their work was appreciated.

Collaborative leaders guide the organisation by example. Costco’s co-founder, Jim Sinegal, makes himself readily available to people at all levels of the organisation and limits his salary to no more than that of 12 employees on the floor.

They have confidence in their employees and therefore trust them to solve problems on their own. One secret to the success of Brad Smith, of financial software company Intuit, has been the culture of experimentation he encourages among his employees; he is known for trusting staff with the space they need to try their ideas. Sometimes one of the most important lessons a leader can learn is how to let go.

Collaborative leaders create an atmosphere that fosters collaboration in others. The Motley Fool has such a high dedication to promoting collaboration that it has a chief collaboration officer. Employees are encouraged to work together through games as well as innovations, such as mobile desks.

ING Direct Canada has gone further by abolishing job titles and offices. It sees this as an effective way to encourage employees to work together to move the company forward.

While many businesses might shy away from the notion of abolishing offices, the success of open communication is definitely a lesson from which many can learn.

When an organisation has strong collaborative leaders managing the company, the business can reach incredible heights. Improving the leadership of an organisation will give a company the tools it needs to innovate and position itself at the forefront of their industry.

So, don’t be a boss, be a leader. Oh, and by the way, Phil Collins is worth around $250m (£162m).

William Buist is founder of the xTEN Club, an annual programme of strategic activities for small, exclusive groups of business owners


About author

William Buist

William Buist

William Buist is a business strategist, speaker, and founder of the exclusive xTEN Club, an annual programme of strategic activities for small, exclusive groups of business owners. He is also author of two books, At Your Fingertips and The Little Book of Mentoring

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