Collaborative Leadership is the New Black

I recently found this chart that perfectly summed up some issues I’ve been dealing with lately:


Truth! The times they are a changing, and bosses who are more concerned with exerting their supreme authority than actually inspiring the best from their employees are going the way of the dinosaurs. Collaboration is key.

Rewind to the first time I was a boss: It may have been inexperience, or it may have been that I was just drunk with my new-found power, but my management style fluctuated between complete disinterest, thinly veiled irritation at being bothered with “unnecessary’ details, followed by frantic, last-minute micromanagement, and ending with a tirade of negative reinforcement. I mean, does that inspire anyone to work harder? Maybe a Willy Loman-esque masochist with daddy-issues…

Needless to say, things did not end well with that employee, and that person is probably still out there somewhere in the world hating me  – as they should be! Luckily, as the years went on, and my experience managing others has grown, I have discovered a much more productive style. For example, nowadays, I have somehow inspired a small army of teenagers who should be out enjoying the beach to intern for me, 5-days-a-week…unpaid! How do I do it?

Easy: Collaborative Leadership…aka, “treat others how you would like to be treated.” I personally produce my best work under the care of managers who respect my time and my ideas, give me clear directives but are open to me figuring out the best way to get there, make sure I receive positive reinforcement and constructive feedback on a regular basis (and don’t end the sentence with “but….here’s what you’re doing wrong”), and who don’t get frustrated with me when I don’t bow down to them with complete submission. So that’s how I treat those who answer to me.

I can figure out pretty fast where someone’s interests and talents lie, and how much they can feasible take on while still producing quality work…and that’s where I steer them. I don’t try to make them do things “my way,” or ignore their request for help if they say they have too much on their plate (only to berate them later when they “drop the ball”). I don’t set impossible standards and then belittle them (preferably with an audience!) when they fail. When you’re a manager, you have to worry about the bottom line, and if your tyrannical ways are actually causing people to leave the organization – well, that’s just bad business!

It’s discouraging to watch others struggle with this, especially if they happen to be in charge of me But that’s the problem with a “traditional” work environment – you can’t give your boss feedback  – no matter how much they might need it! Unfortunately, the choices usually are that you have to grin and bear it, while continuing to treat those under your care as best you can…or  you find yourself a work environment that is better for your productivity and well-being.

Sigh…if only collaborative leadership was the norm!

9 responses to “Collaborative Leadership is the New Black

  1. Reblogged this on The Ditzy Druid and commented:
    I’ve been pretty quiet recently, I know. I’ve got a few posts that are just taking me days to write. In the meantime, I wanted to pass this post by my friend Miss Corinne along. Although her discussion and the chart are in regards to bosses, I realized the same can be said for any leadership role – and that includes people who organize groves, covens, etc. Sometimes we have to be a little strict, but I think folks who are “leaders” should embrace the role as a facilitator rather than dictator. In Northern Rivers Protogrove, I try really hard to give everyone a voice while respecting and keeping in the scope of the ADF tradition. We work together and I try to make it clear that, one day, I will step down and one of them will have to take the reigns! I hope I’m a good example.

    • Very true – these “rules” can be used in a variety of situations…community groups, religious organizations, schools, sewing circles…even in the home!

  2. I’m trying to both BE a collaborative leader (to my direct reports) and model it for the other managers on my team. Some of my colleagues are born leaders but haven’t yet met me on the path of mindful leadership (ie. solve the root causes vs treating symptoms.) thanks for this handy chart

  3. Pingback: Cummings’ Rules of Being The Boss… | The Universe According To Samuel Cummings·

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