Beyond Good Ideas: Collaboration (part four)

This is the fourth instillation in the continuing saga of collaboration.

Sarah was one of the most dominant leaders I’d ever met. She asked me to coach her because she had recently received feedback about her leadership style. To say the least, her leadership style was overbearing, if not downright aggressive. As I walked into her office, I sensed the space reflected her personality and her leadership style. The sparse arrangement of furniture suggested everything flowed from her desk outward in a monologue-like fashion. Sarah gave orders. Period. I sat down.

Sarah began. “I need to collaborate and I want you to teach me how.” She then proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes talking incessantly about how she had to do everything and no one else on her staff was competent. Well, OK, there were competent people, but she just couldn’t seem to light a fire under them. Occasionally, I would stop and ask a question; each one of my questions was lost on Sarah. She would simply jump right back into her rant. I wondered if she noticed my eyes glazing over? I wondered if she noticed anything?

Sarah then proceeded to share her plan for how I could help her. She explained everything she thought I should do to help her collaborate with her staff. She also told me what I needed to do to help her get her staff in gear. By the end, she’d given me the whole game plan. After sharing my job description with me, she paused and asked, “Well what do you think?” I smiled at her and said, “You’re right, you don’t know how to collaborate.” In the silence of the next few seconds, Sarah had a bit of an epiphany that set her on a journey of change—one she’s still on to this day.

Here’s the deal: Leaders who formulate the mission in their minds and then announce it to the team, in hopes that they will be inspired by it and lend their energy to it, are unlikely to stimulate any type of collective discovery process. Conversely, leaders who include others, as many others as possible, in the discovery process, create a far better long-term collaborative environment. Here are three concrete steps you can execute in order to create a truly discovery based mission. Remember, the more a team discovers together, the more the team will collaborates their way to effective execution.

2007-10-23T09:34:16-04:00

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Written by Dave Fleming