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Fostering a Culture of Collaborative Leadership

I was recently in a meeting and I asked someone for their opinion on the topic we were discussing. The next day that individual reached out to thank me. They told me it was the first time anyone had asked for their input during a meeting. I was absolutely stunned to hear this and it got me to thinking how powerful it is to include others in the conversation.

The Case for Inclusion

Organizations need to move past the one-person leadership idea and toward a framework that allows for inclusion and groupthink. In order to serve student bodies to the best of our ability, leaders must rely on the intelligence, experience, and diversity of staff.

I believe collaborative leadership is the real key to the health and success of all university campuses. To this end, here are some ways leaders can begin inviting others into the conversation:

1. Change Your Attitude

No one can force you to share your leadership, you’ve got to actually see the value in collaboration. A change in attitude is the first step toward leveraging the skills of your entire workforce.

2. Bring Others on Board from the Beginning

Effective collaboration will no doubt call for new processes and workflows to be put in place. Use this as a first step to get staff on board. Ask for input and suggestions for these new processes. The more you make your staff feel a part of things, the more skin they have in the game, the more they care and show up 100% each day.

3. Share Your Purpose and Vision\

Trying to “guide” your staff through command and control is about as easy as trying to get your dog to wash your car. You’ll have a much easier time if you instead clearly communicate your purpose and vision. Once you share, it becomes everyone’s purpose and vision, and your team now has a reason to be self-motivated.

The colleague I mentioned in the beginning, who was stunned to have me invite her into the conversation, was, from that day forward, much more eager to be involved in all aspects of day-to-day administrative activities. A fire had been lit within her and she became motivated to give her all.

Isn’t that interesting, when we ask employees for their all, their real all – as in their intelligence and experience and opinions – they tend to want to give their all.

4. Leverage Team Diversity in Problem Solving

Studies have shown that when groups are diverse in backgrounds and skillsets, they are far more able to solve problems. Diversity in thought and experience means having access to a greater pool of perspectives and possibilities. Use your people to solve your greatest challenges!!

5. Build Trust

Trust is the glue that holds all groups together. Do you trust your staff? Do they trust you? To build trust, always invite open communication and be honest and candid.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

– Helen Keller

It’s lonely at the top. And much harder to get things accomplished all by yourself. Commit to cultivating a culture of collaborative leadership within your organization and watch amazing things begin to happen!

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