Over the years, I have visited with many leaders and witnessed many leaders in action. Some have been good and some have been poor. Occasionally, some have been excellent. When I reflect on the best ones, I see a growing pattern in their actions. These top leaders understand the declining power of positional leadership and the rise and importance of collaborative leadership, especially when it comes to solving adaptive problems.
Recently, during one to one executive coaching sessions, people, who have the title but not the power or ability to make change happen, have shared how deeply frustrated they are that they can not generate the outcomes they are wanting to take place. They can not believe how other organizational leaders are making things happen. They are especially perplexed by how others create buy-in and ownership. They are even more frustrated about how other leaders seem to get strategy to not be trumped by tactics.
“What’s the difference?” they often ask me.
While I could point out how one leader has more training, coaching, or experience than the other, this would not always be accurate. In the end, I point out that one person choose positional leadership as their foundation while the other choose collaborative leadership. Furthermore, the individual who choose collaborative leadership, will have access to the power of the whole, i.e. the whole strategic nexus and the whole team.
In the beginning, common language helps people when they seek to use a collaborative form of leadership. This foundation helps with the capacity to plan and with then capacity to execute. Former From Vision to Action Leadership Training participants often talk with me about the importance of shared language and shared understanding in creating successful change. Many think this is the unifying element to the work of making change happen successfully, mostly because it builds shared commitment and the improved ability to collaborate.
As they point out, positional leadership’s major tool is the power they have in their position. Collaborative leaders activated to the power of stake holder enrollment. Collaborative leaders consciously move people from unaware to commitment. Collaborative leaders focus on cultural clarity and results while positional leaders only focus on results.
This week I encourage you to become a collaborative leader who focuses on using common language and building a greater understanding. It will make a world of difference over time.