Young: Power of collaboration creates business world that works

Our business world is moving away from autocratic leadership to more decentralized models…

I would like to think that even as the years unfold, I never stop learning and embracing new thoughts and experiences.

In the more than two years I have been writing this column with the entrepreneurial spirit at the forefront of my focus, I continue to be awed by the abundance of genuine leaders I’ve had the privilege of befriending both in business and social settings within the Okanagan Valley.

And I think how joyous the valley environment would find itself, not only in entrepreneurial pursuit and stimulating its entrepreneurial culture but in all aspects of human life, if we grasped with all our hearts and minds the power of collaboration as an added ingredient in our leadership education.

At the most fundamental level, collaboration comes from a Latin root that roughly means to work with, but there is more to it than that.

People at truly collaborative organizations are empowered and engaged—they co-labour successfully, reach agreement, resolve differences, produce great products and meet customer and community needs in ways that may well be the envy of their industry, organization, and regional landscape.

Collaborative leadership is at the centre  of an important shift in our business world, which is moving away from autocratic leadership to more decentralized models which significantly create a new paradigm.

For many, the shift from command and control raises a continuing dilemma: How do you get things done and drive an organization forward when you’re forced to coax and convince?

I’m told by some very reputed leadership consultants the distinction lies at the heart of the answer: Collaboration is an essential tool for the new kind of entrepreneurial venture leader, the facilitative leader, one who engages relevant stakeholders in solving problems collaboratively and works to build a more collaborative culture in his or her community or organization.

The facilitative leader makes conscious choices about how much collaboration is appropriate for each decision and delegates accordingly.

This leader is able to get more out of their organization, while staying on track and driving the intended strategy forward.

They are able to devise and articulate a vision of triple-bottom-line value that inspires and motivates internal and external stakeholders alike.

As companies and organizations are urged to move to more agile, collaborative models, so too have they begun involving a variety of internal and external stakeholder in their overall strategies.

The folks at the helmo of many forward-thinking organizations  are taking into account how they affect the environment, their communities and employees.

When leaders use collaboration to plan, gain alignment and execute skillfully, they create value for all stakeholders within their sphere of influence.

Our Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society, for example, has recently completed an outstanding collaborative leadership process through the creation of a non-profit entrepreneurial corporate structure of close to 28 people led by a board of a founding chair, a chair and seven vice-chairs with a plethora of committees under each vice-chair. And our team accomplished this with little pain and much joy thanks to the collaborative leadership of each member of the team.

A sense of direction comes from a clear understanding of the strategic moment faced by the organization itself.

What is the gap between where the company or organization is and where it aspires to be? What’s required to bridge that gap? Who could be involved in bridging that gap?

After establishing a sense of direction, one must focus on practices that invite enrollment in the change and commitment to its success.

Collaborative organizations build their capacity and capability in working effectively together unselfishly and with a common sense of community purpose.

No individual organizational nor scorecard is absolutely necessary.

What fun we could have with unbelievable outcomes if we operated in a constant cycle of sharing information, clarifying understanding, reaching agreements and implementing decisions.

All of us, in our individual and joint efforts, can tap the creativity in our minds and, combined with the power of collaboration —to invent something totally original. We can leap into the void, exercise belief in our visions together, learn to trust each other and effectively engaging the relevant stakeholders, remain unafraid of the unknown.