In his book, Practically Radical, William C. Taylor (cofounder of Fast Company magazine) writes about collaborative leadership. Taylor believes that collaborative leadership is about ”collective capability,” not just collective intelligence. That is, leaders create the conditions in which diverse people work together to solve a tough challenge.
As Boston Scientific cofounder John Abele said in an interview with Taylor, “leaders can’t be so self-effacing that they become invisible. They have to create a reason to collaborate and a platform to make it possible.”
I had the chance to talk with Abele at the Business Innovation Factory Summit last week, and I asked him more about this. Abele said that the key was for leaders to find a way to motivate people to collaborate, and that leaders could do this in different ways. Some, like the CEO of Data General, were old-school command-and-control types, but they got collaboration because they mandated it (ironic!) More current examples, however, show that the leaders most effective at inspiring collaboration do so by:
- Making everyone feel like partners in the endeavor, be they employees, customers or diverse individuals brought together randomly by an idea
- Presenting ideas in a way that invites input from others
- Sharing credit for the ideas
- Earning trust by not presuming to have all the answers