What happens when nobody stands out from the crowd?
Great leaders can be found in many places and many companies. Some of have spent careers fine tuning their portfolio of interpersonal skills so that they’ll be effective when the going gets tough. But let’s face it. Knowing where to turn for unique leadership skills can be a challenge.
It’s often difficult to find “the real thing” among a crowded field of would-be originals.
To shed some new light on what it means to be a collaborative leader, let’s ask a few questions to help bring the seach into better focus. For starters, let’s take a look at the foundational semantics, and some of the critical dynamics that we think are important in this space.
- Q1. Skills. What are the key skills that a collaborative leader must possess?
- Q2. Styles. In “Primal Leadership” (2002), Goleman calls for adopting 1 of 6 styles: visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pace setting, commanding. Which apply here?
- Q3. Behaviors. How can we recognize a collaborative leader from among others who are less collaborative?
- Q4. Mindset. How can leaders adopt a collaborative mindset?
As we review the complex and evolving Team Dynamics (Ch.15) in The DNA of Collaboration, again and again we find leaders must play key roles to guide organizations through collaborative processes. This discussion is a starting point for more to follow.
We look forward to your insight on this important thread.
Chris Jones @sourcepov
Join the conversation: Friday April 26th 1p at GMU Founder’s Hall, Arlington VA
Organizations in the 21st century have grown increasingly risk averse, causing many people inside them to take a defensive view of the world.
Small wonder that collaboration – the open exchange of ideas in an effort to solve problems – has a grown increasingly difficult. More and more we hear about collaboration and it’s benefits, via sage advice from outsiders and edicts from above. But there’s a simple question facing us. It often goes unasked and stays unanswered.
Do we have the courage to collaborate?
On Friday April 26th, at the Chesapeake Bay OD Network (CBODN) 2013 Annual Conference, from 1-2:15 pm, James Alexandar and I are taking on this topic. The conference theme is “Courageous Leadership” and it explores how OD practitioners must challenge what we think we know about achieving success in the 21st century organization.
I’m Chris Jones, @sourcepov from Twitter, and I’ll be heading up from Charlotte to join in the conversation.
James and I will explore a variety of the key elements in the equation, but ultimately we’ll focus in on Culture, lack of Trust and Fear. These elements invariably shape and constrain behaviors in today’s organizations, in spite of efforts in the opposite direction. Most of the time, the odds seem stacked against us. The ability to take on the challenges requires an immense amount of courage. Success requires leaders who are willing and able to release their death grip on control. The discussion on Friday will explore some core precepts of OD, then tackle the implications of key barriers. Then we’ll share some very specific insights on how collaboration accelerates in a high-trust, low-fear workplace, giving participants hands on experience with collaboration in an open exchange. We’ll navigate from a “risk averse” mindset to a “risk-enabled” one, tapping ideas from my book The DNA of Collaboration: Unlocking the Potential of 21st Century Teams.
In search of Collaborative Learning
As our CDNA conversation on “Learning to Learn” continues, we’ve begun to turn up a variety of leads in our search for the path forward, including barriers and enablers. To many, the holy grail of organizational learning seems to be hidden from view .. though many in our crew have ventured far to find it ..
We will continue our search, but we’ll pause now and again to deep dive on what we’ve uncovered to date.
All of the topics here were surfaced in our “open mic” on FEB 4 [transcript].
- Q1. Time. The enemy is necessity & our daily demands; one learning goal is time to explore. Can collaborators manufacture more time? [Kim]
- Q2. Leadership. The ability to inspire greatness, trust and action can be rare. What is it about collaborative settings that spawns the opportunity? [Scott]
- Q3. Deep Connection. “Intermingling” seems to be a great source of emergent insight. What conditions encourage it? [Astrid]
- Q4. Possibility. Beyond strategy and planning? The realm of hope, faith, serendipity, opportunity .. how might we get in touch with them? [Paul]
We will press ahead soon, but with these insights surfaced, it seems prudent to stop and reflect .. if not fully understand .. the factors we’ve surfaced already. After all, “synthesis” has been a key critical thinking step since Descartes .. and in @CollabDNA, it’s Ch.16, Step 6 ..
Navigating the Spiral
One of the key takeaways from our 2/18 chat was the discussion of a “spiral” methodology for traversing challenges vs. a more linear progression down or across our framework. To advance that thinking and apply it a bit, let’s reflect on the double helix model of DNA as inspiration, as we explore “Navigating the Spiral: How do we Keep Our Bearings?”. 8pET on 2/25 at #CDNA.
We’d love your thoughts here, as comments .. or in our Twitter Chat, Monday 8pET. Most will use tweetchat
to make the connection.
See you online.
Chris aka @sourcepov
In a world where many if not most leaders cut their teeth as managers, it’s small wonder the bias at the top of organizations and teams is for controlling outcomes. As we’ve discussed, there is a strong bias for structure baked into our industrial paradigm. Most teams are run with the precision of factories.
Can leaders adapt to different models? Better still, can they learn adaptive behaviors, in general?
I explore precisely that challenge in Chapter 15 of The DNA of Collaboration. In our virtual book tour, we’ll explore some of the key concepts:
- Q1. Viewing leadership as an art, how can we change our bias from structure to flow?
- Q2. Music and fine arts offer leaders alternative views to how things work; can we borrow a stage, brush or canvas?
- Q3. One goal of any team is affinity, aka common ground: how fast can we get there?
- Q4. Diversity is key as well. Does our affinity goal represent a paradox?
- Q5. In a high stakes world, how can leaders, like artists, learn to let go, experiment, take risks?
Hope you’ll join us SAT 11/3 11am ET. We use hash tag #cdna. You can click here at the appointed hour to join the conversation using TweetChat.
Hope to see you there.
- Chris Jones, aka @sourcepov, author
Promo image from “Whose Line is it Anyway?” courtesy ABC
When we come together as a team, whether instinctively or out of habit, we tend to gravitate to natural roles that we find comfortable, whether as contributors or listeners, active participants or passive observers, leaders or supporting cast. Depending on the group, there can be lots in play at once, but we tend to overlook the dynamics.
Consider an improv comedy troupe performing live, or a band working out tracks in a recording studio. What’s really happening? Can we tease out more explicit roles that influence our collaborative results? I think we can. Too often we don’t put thought into the kinds of participation we really need. We discussed this last fall in our KM World W5 work session and explored the dynamics still further here in Charlotte at our QCF “New Thinking” workshop (slides).
Let’s keep the exploration going.
The #CDNA Crew has launched a new series MONDAYs at 8pET on Key Roles in Collaboration. It’s the focus of Chapter 14 in The DNA of Collaboration (in softcover or Kindle on Amazon) and it’s almost always a conversation that strikes a chord.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll attack these roles, one by one, to see what we might learn:
- Q1. Catalyst. In what ways can we spark new thinking in our discussions?
- Q2. Connector. What happens when we connect ideas during a collaborative session or chat? And to make this happen more, what are: (a.) key initial conditions? (b.) supporting behaviors? (c.) times they add most value? (d.) situations when their role is most important?
- Q3. Aggregator/Curator. Often this means lots of work. How can we make the capture/takeaways of ideas more interesting?
- Q4. Moderator/Planner. What skills make these leadership role effective?
- Q5. Analyst. How do we make time for facts, data, and critical thinking?
- Q6. Challenger. Can we take issue in constructive ways, without coming across as a naysayer?
- Q7. Designer. What is the potential for truly creative thinking? Does a meeting afford enough “white space” for this?
- Q8. Historian/Researcher. How can these important activities happen in real time?
- Q9. Referee. Is there a place for (simple) rules, and how do we ensure healthy boundaries?
- Q10. Practitioner. What’s the best way to engage the hands-on folks that practice what’s being discussed?
- Q11. Expert/SME. These folks often kill collaboration with the weight of their knowledge; how can this be avoided?
- Q12. Did we leave out any roles? If so, which ones, and why?
I’ll be posting takeaways as comments to this post, but I’d really appreciate it if you’d do the same. The value is in our diverse perspectives ..
Again, hope to see you guys for the conversation MONDAYs 8pET using hash tag #cdna .. many folks use Tweetchat (link). See you there. What role will you play?
Chris aka @sourcepov