Writing for the Financial Post, author and consultant Carol Kinsey Goman says increasing collaboration and building effective teams should be a concern for leaders because:
- it’s essential for organizational success today, and,
- the requisite “culture in which everyone pulls together can only come from the top.”
“It's by winning your workers' trust, and making them feel valued and included, that you'll cultivate a real sense of teamwork,” she writes. "Today's most successful leaders guide their organizations not through command and control, but through a shared purpose and vision."
She recently offered seven tips for turning any organization into a team. Here is an edited list of those tips:
- Collaboration is a leadership issue. First and foremost, collaboration usually requires change in attitude and behavior of people throughout an organization. As such, it’s a leadership issue.
- Collaboration is essential for organizational change. Regardless of how creative, smart and savvy a leader may be, he or she can’t transform an organization, a department or a team without the brain power and commitment of others. ... success dictates that the individuals impacted by change be involved in the change from the very beginning.
- Visioning is a team sport. Today’s most successful leaders guide their organizations not through command and control, but through a shared purpose and vision. These leaders adopt and communicate a vision of the future that impels people beyond the boundaries and limits of the past. But if the future vision belongs only to top management, it will never be an effective motivator for the workforce.
- Diversity is crucial. Diversity causes people to consider perspectives and possibilities that would otherwise be ignored. Group members who think alike or are trained in similar disciplines with similar bases of knowledge run the risk of becoming insular in their ideas.
- Relationships are key. The outcome of any collaborative effort is dependent upon well-developed personal relationships among participants. People need time to get to know one another, to discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses, to build trust, to develop a common understanding and vision for the project.
- Trust is the glue. Trust is the belief or confidence that one party has in the reliability, integrity and honesty of another party. Today we have a crisis of trust: suspicious and cynical employees are disinclined to collaborate – sharing knowledge is still perceived as weakening a personal “power base.” In many cases that’s because their leaders aren’t trustworthy and don’t model trust. Remember, if a leader looks after his or her interests first, ahead of the group’s mission, it only makes sense for followers to do the same — look after their individual interests rather than the team’s mission. Then no one is looking after the group’s mission and failure is all but certain.
- Nonverbals matter: Pay attention to body language. If you act preoccupied for standoffish, others will see and hear that — and take it to heart.
Goman concludes that “in an increasingly complex and ever-shifting ocean of change ... leaders need to rely more than ever on the intelligence and resourcefulness of their staff. Collaboration is not a ‘nice to have’ organizational philosophy. It is an essential ingredient for organizational survival and success.”
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