I’ve had the privilege and pain of watching many meetings of great minds turn into ego contests, go way beyond schedule…and accomplish nothing, or less. It’s not easy to turn a bunch of brilliant idiots into a collection of amazing contributors, but it’s possible.
Great collaborative leaders are a rare but admirable type. They are “impresarios” who work their magic on the participants, the agenda, and even details such as the setting the stage and creating the appropriate environment, to ensure the group will arrive at the best decisions. If you aren’t such a person, and you have an important collaboration at hand, I strongly advise you to either finding someone who is or to try and learn the skills needed as well as you can.
One of the most important roles of a collaborative leader is to build up trust in the process. A great leader makes people feel as if everyone has equal opportunity, and all ideas, no matter how potentially disruptive, are welcome. Such a leader wants people to “think out of the box” and to feel like innovation is encouraged, not penalized. They make it cool to not have ego invested in the outcome.
Such leaders also reach out, even to enemies. They know that if someone is likely to lob a grenade at a project, involving them early on may disarm or at least neutralize them. A great leader also includes divergent perspectives – people from unrelated disciplines or even competitors, because they know that will help avoid groupthink and inspire others to be innovative. They don’t avoid conflict, rather they manage it. One classic technique is to summarize the key points of strong minded participants in advance in non-emotional terms…the Derek Bok technique. Emotionalism is unavoidable, but the best leaders know how to defuse conflict or emotion, and by doing so they reassure everyone that they are participating in a fair, safe, and open discussion. Sometimes self-deprecatory humor can pull a difficult situation back from the abyss authentic jordans for sale.
When planning collaboration, leaders must consider the following:
- Are different cultures, ages, silos, and levels of experience and understanding represented? Try to avoid the “collection of giants” mind set. Define the problem so that it inherently requires breadth of input.
- Do any strong egos in this group need to be stroked and contained? Sometimes balancing one ego against another can help. Personal and respectful requests for help in advance can help.
- Are there any messenger killers present who will try to crush bearers of views different from their own? Summarizing the views of a known contrarian in non-emotional terms in advance is best, but summarizing afterwards and stripping out the gratuitous elements also works wholesale nike air max 90.
- Are there any pontificators in the group who will waste time or draw the discussion off topic? Setting tight time limits can help here. Great collaborative leaders are great moderators.
Some of these problems can be addressed in advance; others just have to be dealt with wisely when they arise. The most important thing is for the leader to lead by example. He or she must continually demonstrate fairness, openness, and trustworthiness, be the first to question his or her own ideas, and reward participants for fairplay, clear communication, and valuable insights. It may be necessary to summarize key points on a person by person basis, but it is essential to do it well at the end.
Those are the skills and characteristics I’ve noticed in the people who have impressed me as top-rate collaborators – people who have gotten extraordinary results new balance 574 black. Now, I invite you to tell me what you think are the most important features of a great collaborator