Collaborative Leaders versus Solo Leaders
Our ideas and experiences of leadership were based on the single leader in the past. There is another way. Solo leaders are responsible for all decisions, and seek conformity. They project their goals onto others. Team or collaborative leaders, on the other hand, limit their role and seek out talent to promote diversity and set a vision that inspires others. Different situations require different leadership styles. While solo leadership may speed up decision-making, most situations call for a democratic style of leadership. Let’s look at why collaboration leaders have the edge.
Collaboration leaders are able to play to their strengths while empowering their team.
While bureaucratic leaders manage their subordinates, team leaders build relationships with them by using the tools of collaborative leadership. Because they know their own leadership style and nurture it, team leaders understand what they can contribute. They understand that playing to your strengths increases engagement within the team sixfold. Therefore, they invest in finding out what each member of the team has to offer and finding the best fit.
A Belbin Report, regardless of whether it is applied to a new hire or someone who has worked in the same group for many years can give invaluable insight into someone’s strengths beyond what can be found on a resume. It can be used to help team members share information and build trust. It can also reveal hidden talents, aspirations, and strain if someone has been working against their natural abilities for a prolonged period of time.
Team leadership requires humility… and humble servant leaders get results
Leaders believe that they can learn something from their team members. They are not automatically more intelligent, creative, or more able to think than their colleagues. They are more likely to ask for feedback from their team to improve their leadership skills. They are generally more humble, self-aware and better able to understand the needs of their organisation. Leadership that is humble results in higher employee engagement, greater job satisfaction, and lower turnover rates.
Belbin’s philosophy is all about observing behaviour. This is why it is important to get feedback from other observers. Leaders, managers and colleagues can all contribute to the understanding of what someone can offer and how they might benefit by collaborating with people who have complementary skills.
Team leadership promotes diversity – and reaps the rewards
Leadership in a team environment is less about controlling and commanding, but more about getting the best out of a diverse group of people.
Participative leadership is all in democracy. Leaders of teams seek to surround themselves only with capable people, and not with admirers who agree with them every word. They ask for others’ opinions. To improve the team’s balance, they seek out talented people. They are able to use cognitive diversity to improve the team’s balance and not rely on their own views.
The Belbin Team Report in particular, gives an overview of how each person in a team might contribute, helping leaders to look beyond job titles and ensure that a range of cognitive approaches are represented.
Collaboration increases ownership, accountability, and engagement
Transactional leaders assign tasks and goals and expect people to comply. When a leader fails, which is almost always, they are usually left alone and often dismissed. Collaboration leaders, on the other hand, seek out the perspectives of others and have strong communication skills. They are able to make clear decisions and build trust and respect. This allows others to take greater ownership of the project and is more likely to offer assistance when necessary.
Collaborative leadership centres effective delegation
Collaborative leaders are better at understanding the abilities of others and can delegate effectively according to their strengths. They make sure that each person is well-suited for the task at hand and is engaged in the process. They can also trust that their team member will be responsible for the results. This trust allows the leader to focus on the larger picture and not micromanage or interfere in the details of how things are done.
Team leadership takes teams beyond the confines of hierarchical structures
A dominant individual leader, used to leading from the front, works successfully under a project manager who naturally took a lower-profile approach. The language of Belbin Team Rules allowed them to communicate their relationship using behavioural styles. They were not bound to traditional expectations about their relative positions which could have made each of them play against their strengths. It’s not always possible to have a perfect team composition using Team Role terminology. Therefore, it is important to be able to understand the behaviours of others and to use Belbin’s language to help you work with what you have and who you have.
Leadership in teams is more future-proof than individual leadership and provides a stronger bulwark against uncertainties
Nearly 97% of the 10 companies surveyed in a study said that the problems they faced were so complex that effective solutions required teams. The world has become more uncertain over the last few years. It is not fair to expect one person to take sole responsibility for directing the course of events.
This is not the expectation for new generations who enter the workforce expecting to have their voices heard. In a society that is based on equality and power-sharing, collaborative leadership is the only viable option. Leaders who give their teams the opportunity to have a say in the selection of talent will be able to create the best-performing teams.
Let it go…
Leaders can find it difficult to give up control when their reputation is at stake. However, this doesn’t mean that leaders have to give up control. Understanding the contribution of each person – even the leader – helps everyone feel valued and connected and assists with the details of allocating work, making decisions, and managing meetings.
No matter what our strengths or how well-honed we are at leadership, we will always need others to fill the gaps. This should be embraced and acknowledged as a source for strength.
The Belbin Team Role methodology provides valuable insight into the working of people and helps them make better decisions, no matter what storm they’re facing. Collaborative leadership will be the tool to help you and your team excel.