Young: The power of collaboration

Collaborative leadership is the move away from autocratic leadership to more decentralized new paradigm models.

I continue to be awed by the abundance of genuine leaders of many highways that I have had the privilege of meeting and befriending both in business and social settings within the Okanagan Valley since I started this column more than four years ago.

And it gives me pause to reflect on the power of collaboration, an important ingredient in our valley business environment’s pursuit of entrepreneurism.

People who work for truly collaborative organizations are empowered and engaged to work together successfully to reach agreements, 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, increasingly moving away from autocratic leadership to more decentralized new paradigm models.

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 facilitator who engages relevant stakeholders in solving problems  and works to build a more collaborative culture in his or her  organization.

The facilitative leader sets the barometer for appropriate collaboration internal protocols and   delegates accordingly.

Leading and collaborating—wow, what a concept. As companies and organizations are urged to become more agile, collaborative models, so too have they begun involving a variety of internal and external stakeholders in their overall strategies.

Many forward-thinking companies and organizations and the folks at the helm of either are taking into account how they affect the environment, communities and employees, as well as each other.

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

So, how do we set the bar for all to build collaborative capability and capacity? The key, it seems, lies in aligning an organization’s direction, commitment and capability to create shared responsibility for the success of the organization.

This is a particularly significant point to me personally as the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society 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 who together head up a furher plethora of committees.

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 future for an organization. What is the gap between where an organization is and where it aspires to be? What’s required to bridge that gap?

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

Now, please embrace this thought: The invitation extends beyond traditional organizational boundaries to include other business and social relationships and the broader community.

This bias for inclusion and involvement is at the very heart of the collaborative attitude shared by high purpose companies and organizations.

Okay then, direction says what we’ll do. Commitment says why we’ll do it. So 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.

Connecting stakeholders and practicing optimum involvement yields surprising and unbelievably satisfying results.

Please don’t let any false myths of collaboration get in the way of mastering a more agile, rewarding entrepreneurial environment.