Why Collaboration Is a Top Concern for Every Leader

Collaboration, people sitting and working around an office desk
Originally published on LinkedIn (read original).

Senior leaders regularly share with me their concerns about the level of collaboration in the company. They often mention the lack of cross-organizational collaboration they experience, and how this is hindering the company to execute its strategy successfully. They see how the company is not fast or flexible enough, how people and units do not align and combine their efforts quickly enough, how achieving results takes too much time, or how objectives are not met at all. They see it as an important issue and ask me for advice on how to improve the quality of the collaboration (mind you, the quantity is not always the problem).

I often witness the following reflexes in the behavior of executives when they are confronted with collaboration issues: intervene in the structure to force collaboration / change the composition of teams / have HR organize a collaboration skills training for employees. And yet, the results of these interventions are limited or at best only a part of the solution. Why?

Apparently some leaders do not see creating effective collaboration as an essential part of their own role. They believe strategy development is their role, not the execution process. ‘That is for line-managers and their teams, I do not have time for that; it is their job.’ When collaboration issues occur they are delegated to lower management or the HR department. This may have worked in the past, but in today’s business reality this is not working! What has changed?

HRS Business Transformation Services, slide with title 'How Strategy Execution Has Changed'

Strategy execution today requires organizations to develop more flexibility, adaptability, and continuous navigation. People in organizations struggle with this!

Successful strategy execution requires leaders to develop new ways of collaboration. New ways in order to connect and align people, teams, units, regions across organizational borders. Connecting people and teams in such a way that information, knowledge, expertise, ideas and solutions get exchanged and aligned faster and more flexible throughout the organization. New ways to really create collective focus on priorities, resources, and actions. Ways of collaboration that stimulate people to deal differently with accountability. Ways of collaboration that help people to develop and increase their adaptability. Collaboration that is disciplined enough and leads to concrete results.

Successful strategy execution requires leaders to develop new ways of collaboration.

Today’s leaders are facing two key challenges:
  1. How can I guide the organization successfully in translating our strategy into effective execution? (read this article for some tips);
  2. How can I stimulate and support people at all levels of the organization to create the right way of collaboration that supports our strategy? (read this article for some guidelines).

Two reasons why collaboration should be a top concern for every leader.

What are your thoughts? What should leaders do to create effective collaboration? What do you see working well?

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Photo: Shutterstock

Aad is a global business advisor, change leader, executive team facilitator, leadership coach, and frequently asked keynote speaker. He is founder and managing partner at HRS Business Transformation Services where he works with senior executives and leadership teams globally in three key domains: ‘leading complex change’, ‘cross-cultural leadership’, and ‘post-merger integration’. Find more about Aad and our services. If you would like to invite Aad to your organization contact us.

3 Comments on “Why Collaboration Is a Top Concern for Every Leader

  1. Pingback: Why Collaboration Is a Top Concern for Every Leader | LeadershipWatch | News links

  2. the problem of lack of support lies with the very fact that most of the leaders as mentioned in the article fail to realise the importance of supporting and monitoring the strategy implementation and leave it to the line management for the execution. Every strategy formulated at the top level must be driven down by change champions. These champions don’t have to be the line managers but appointed by the top management where the strategy is coming from. It’s a vast subject and a lot can be written on this but I would summarise it by by saying that a successful execution of top down strategies requires a proactive part in the implementation by the very same people who give those strategies.


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