Copyright: Vasin Lee

Collaborative leadership, not just management talk

We all live in an interconnected world and for business leaders the last decade has seen a dramatic rise in the speed and scale of this interdependence. But while increased connectivity is inevitable, increased collaboration is not. To succeed in today’s environment, leaders, including research managers, need to be able to build relationships, handle conflict and to share control in order to promote effective collaboration where it is needed most. This notion is not alien to most scientists, who by the very nature of research, do routinely engage in collaborative work.

British experts David Archer and Alex Cameron are founding Directors of Socia Ltd, a company which has an international reputation advising leaders of large organisations on how to get more from their business critical relationships. They have been working in this field for over ten years and were amongst the first business authors to define and explain Collaborative Leadership in their 2008 book. This 2nd edition draws on interviews, examples and additional cases studies of the new collaboration challenges that leaders face such as; working together to deal with the consequences of financial contagion in the Eurozone or elsewhere, and responding to the growth in use of social networks by their staff and customers.

This fully revised text provides a ‘how-to’ guide for leaders in today’s interconnected world. It will give both experienced and aspiring leaders the techniques and confidence to manage complex collaborative relationships in a sustainable way.

It also acts as a guide for leadership development professionals, coaches and consultants who have to build leadership and collaboration capability within organisations.

Although the book is not specifically geared towards scientists, it has messages that can apply to the management of research today. For example, it provides some entertaining analysis on why some collaborative leaders fail, including a detailed analysis of types of leadership that are not always successful. These include the control freaks, the idealists, the incrementalists and the selfish high achievers.

Some of you may even recognise colleagues in these profiles.

All in all, the key to effective collaboration may not depend on relying on old skills to meet new challenges, but rather in recognising the need for new skills. What is more, it appears that adopting an inclusive management style has its merits, while not blaming people when things go wrong and putting oneself in other people’s shoes may also help. The book also recommends sharing the credit as well as the work load. It also points out that patience is the ultimate virtue of a good leader.

That should provide you with enough management talk for an entire year!

Featured image credit: Ingka D. Jiw via Shutterstock

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