Giving leadership to city movements requires collaborative intelligence. Unfortunately, most of us have not received collaboration training as part of our preparation for the leadership roles we hold.
Increasingly, however, our effectiveness in those roles is going to be tied to our competency in our capacity to practice collaborative leadership. This is especially the case in city-wide efforts that often involve players from multiple domains of society with diverse backgrounds, values, and agendas.
Here are some fundamental insights for developing and maintaining your collaborative intelligence.
Leadership is personal, not just positional:
In the collaborative world leaders have influence not just because of the title they carry or position they occupy. Their leadership relies on elements far more personal: personality, character, demeanor, likeability, relationship. Effective collaborative leaders nurture their personal connections.
Trust is the currency of collaborative teams:
Player’s credibility sets their line of credit with other members of the team. It takes awhile to make deposits into this account. It takes much less time to drain it. In fact, one move can bankrupt a leader’s trust level. If trust is violated, whether intentionally or unintentionally, leaders must move to address the breach immediately. Honesty, transparency, and responsible accountability must come into play.
Communication is the lifeblood of collaboration:
Collaborations are living things. They are born and nurtured to flourish, or they can be treated in ways that stunt their growth or even cause them to die. What brings life to every aspect of collaborative efforts is communication. Collaborative initiatives require information to survive and to thrive in carrying out their mission. The quality of this information, and the premium placed on developing and maintaining a culture of robust communication, determines the strength of the collaborative venture.
Mission is the key affinity for collaborative efforts:
What binds collaborative teams together is shared mission. This is the “why” of the enterprise. Effective collaborative leaders capitalize on this understanding to build the partnerships and to motivate various stakeholders for mission success. Leaders with high collaborative intelligence focus on the mission imperatives, not the “how to” of command and control approaches.
Accountability must be both championed and practiced:
This accountability must be mutual and equally embraced. In other words, leaders can’t expect others in the organization to adopt degrees of accountability that are not practiced by the leaders at the top of the organization. Collaborative cultures don’t adopt expectations and practices that accept varying levels of responsibility. Top leaders cannot hide behind their mistakes or pin responsibility for failure on others.
Expectations are clear and spelled out:
Effective leaders in an age of collaboration know the importance of developing and operating with clear expectations. These are not taken for granted but are spelled out so that mutual accountability can function properly. “This is what you can expect from me” and “here’s what I expect from you” are critical understandings in any collaborative effort that proves to be a significant community effort.
Roadblocks to collaboration must be called out and addressed:
The list of hindrances to successful collaboration include competing egos, the need of some parties to control the operation, a scarcity mentality that militates against shared success among multiple parties, just to get started. Values clashes, poor communication, breakdowns in execution also challenge the vitality and even sustainability of any collaborative initiative that targets significant societal change or addresses any major community issue. These must be called out by the leadership and addressed, not just for the sake of operational viability, but also to maintain motivational commitment to the cause.
Remember the 3 P’s of collaboration: patience, persistence, and perseverance:
Collaborative efforts typically take longer than expected, encounter more problems than anticipated, and require greater expense of energy and resources than imagined. But leaders of successful city-wide efforts would uniformly agree that the rewards make it worth the commitment.
For more on this topic visit Good Cities’ Podcasts and select podcast 008 — “Axioms for Collaboration”