The collaborative leadership style relies on collective knowledge. Instead of only relying on the knowledge of the manager or supervisor as with traditional leadership models, the collaborative leadership style relies on the leader's ability to influence their subordinates and get their input.
While we will discuss why this matters in more detail in the next section, it is important to briefly mention its importance as it is part of the name. It encourages collaboration between employees as well as employees and management.
With this style of management, leadership is no longer a one-person show. Leadership can make more informed decisions by taking in more information, and employees are encouraged to give valuable input.
Why Does It Matter?
The collaborative leadership style, simply put, is good for business. It eliminates the overall belief that only a few people know what's best for the business (the manager of each department). While managers may have a broad understanding because they are aware of the quarterly and yearly goals that must be met, they do not necessarily understand the daily pressure associated with meeting those goals.
They may not participate in the daily workflow, work with the clients, or even work with the software or hardware needed to meet objectives. Thus, decisions under more traditional leadership models generally relied on information from individuals not engaged in the required business activities.
Collaborative leadership creates an environment of mutual trust and respect between management and subordinates. Instead of treating subordinates as if they don't know anything and as if they couldn't possibly understand the objectives of the business, it recognizes that the employees are valuable team members with input that the business can use to help it achieve and possibly even exceed goals.
By asking for, accepting, and implementing the best ideas and information provided by employees in each department, the business can benefit. Employees feel trusted and validated. Employees who feel trusted and as if they matter are also more likely to remain with the business for the long-term, particularly if the business also offers mentorship and opportunities for professional growth.
Creative problem solving is also an advantage provided by this leadership style. The onus of solving the problems for the department or even for an entire business (depending on the size of it) is not on the shoulders of one person.
This method encourages the input of others. It is particularly helpful since it takes the collective knowledge of those who work directly with clients, individuals who may be affected by the choosing and implementation of new software or hardware, and other critical matters into consideration. It allows all information to be taken into advisement.
Creative solutions for existing issues may be found as well as spotting potential future issues that allow for risk management to occur. It allows management to consider the direct needs of the employees who are affected by decisions to be heard which can help foster a sense of trust as well as loyalty.
Collaborative leadership improves productivity for businesses as well. Since this leadership style requires both employees and management to work together, workplace performance improves. A Stanford study on productivity and collaborative leadership showed that productivity improved by 64% compared to those who worked on a similar task on their own.
The study also reported that collaborative groups also had a better engagement, lower levels of fatigue, and a higher overall success rate. The impact of better engagement, less fatigue, and overall better success lasted for weeks.
However, another study found that in order to ensure that employees are willing to collaborate, especially in the initial stages of switching to this leadership style, it is important to ensure that there is a proper incentive to do so.
This could improve recognizing and rewarding individuals, leaders, and teams who properly engage in productive collaborative behaviors. Without some sort of motivation, they may not be willing to collaborate. Financial incentives are often motivating to employees when it comes to initially encouraging their participation in collaboration.
Overall, a collaborative leadership style is good for a business because it relies on the collective knowledge and experience of everyone in the business aside from just those in management or leadership positions. It-
Builds mutual trust and respect between employees and leadership
Provides a wonderful variety of ideas from those who do the daily work with clients and those who actually use the technology relied on by the business
Can provide leadership with a realistic view on whether the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and sometimes even yearly goals are realistic since the employees actually perform the work on a daily basis
Can improve productivity by over 60%, lessen fatigue, and improve overall engagement. Additionally, these improvements last for weeks.
However, switching to a collaborative leadership style may not be easy for business despite its many benefits. It may require the introduction of financial incentives to encourage employee participation.