Collaboration, leadership skills and effect on overall business performance
Synergy is a very common word used by the business world, and it simply means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When salesmen of a company put their efforts to increase sales performance of the company, it is seen that the total result of their individual efforts (considering each one of them giving their maximum) is always less than what they can achieve when worked cohesively following a plan formed by the group. However, this collaborative movement will produce the best result only under the guidance of a skilled leader of the group. Without an efficient leadership, the collaborative movement of the sales team will simply fail to produce the desired synergic effect.
Collaboration and the efficient leadership, to use the collaboration technique,have taken a pivotal position in conducting the affairs of the global business world. According to Frost and Sullivan, the growing complexities of the business world are continuously putting pressure on the individuals to strike a balance in between the demands of personal life and that of the professional life and, these complexities have given the birth of the collaboration solution to accomplish the professional responsibilities in the most efficient manner by maintaining the personal front of life. According to them: “collaboration solutions are tools, culture and processes that allow people to work together.” To judge the effect of collaboration on overall business performance, the decision makers from some prominent organisations in Europe, Asia and United states were surveyed by Frost and Sullivan and what they have found could be summarised as below:
The collaboration has a profound influence in shaping the performance of the organisation. Collaboration, when exercised methodically and under a good collaborative leadership has been found to have a significant positive impact on sales, profitability etc. of the companies under consideration. The organisations, which use the collaboration solution effectively, have been successful in creating a cohesive force to bind and interconnect the activities of the internal and external affairs and decision making processes of the organisation to make the organisations behave and act like a single unit and, thus has created significant internal and external economies of scale and more importantly has improved the efficiency of the employees of the organisation thereby improving its overall performance. Although the companies offering professional and financial services have been found to be more collaborative by the study of Frost and Sullivan than the manufacturing companies on the global level, it has revealed by their study that, the organisations adopting the more collaborative approach have been more successful than the organisations where collaboration is yet to be adopted completely as a major management tool to bring about a dynamic changes in the overall organisational performance.
However, inviting collaboration as a concept is not enough to get the value enhancing effect. To have the most positive impact of collaboration in augmenting the value creating activities, the leadership should be concerned about the following factors:
- Collaboration is most effective when it is applied at the right time, by the right people and for the right problem. Collaboration is not the end of all solutions and if applied in a situation which does not warrant for a collective effort then, collaboration could produce devastating result. It has been found that collaboration when used extensively in all kinds of business decisions and activities will lead to the wastage of significant amount of productive time because of numerous fruitless meeting to come to a consensus to make strategic or operational decisions. If the two business units with entirely different target and products are asked to collaborate then the decision maker will get simply distracted as, the collaboration of the two different business units, to achieve overall objective of the entire organisation will produce conflict in between the leaders of the two units thereby destroying value.
- While implementing collaboration within the organisation the leaders should not forget that collaboration is not a new technology which could be implemented by operating some machines. Rather, collaboration means creation of cohesiveness in between various units of an organisation having similar operations and same line of goal. This cohesiveness means the cohesiveness in between the employees. The main element of collaboration is creating belief within the employees of the organisation that, collaboration is required to achieve their objective as well as the overall objective of the organisation and thus, providing them the feeling that they are the only one to make the collaboration effort a value creator for the company.
- If there is collaboration there could be conflict and if there is a conflict that does not mean that collaboration is creating problems. Conflict in between different personnel, if healthy, then it is a welcome effect of collaboration. In fact in any collaborative decision making process the contrary views are important to decide the most effective decision by judging the pros and cons of different conflicting views.
Thus the above points suggest that in case of addressing the complex issues collaboration, among the decision makers, will produce the best result only when the collaborative effort will be steered by an efficient leadership.
David Chrislip and Carl Larson, in their book Collaborative Leadership, stated that: “.. if you bring the appropriate people together in constructive ways with good information, they will create authentic visions and strategies for addressing the shared concerns of the organizations or community ”. A collaborative leadership is the process of bringing together the people with visions and quality and to encourage the group, by setting the decision making process, to solve a complex organisational problem by discussion and interaction within the members of the group and thereby sharing the responsibility of making the decision as well asimplementing the sameto enhance the performance of the business.
To get the best value of implementing collaboration, the leader should reflect a collaborative leadership having the following qualities:
- The decision making should not be done by the leader, but should be done on the basis of the collaborative discussion amongst the members of the group selected for making the decision. The effort of the leader is to bring out the best of the members by helping them to focus on the problem.
- The leader should be open minded enough to accept the decision of the group in the best interest of the organisation. Being a leader you should not start the group decision making process with a definite result in your mind. The end result should not be set by the collaborative leader, rather he/she should lead the group to come to the final decision and should steer the group in implementing the decision.
- The leadershould conduct the collaborative decision making process in a way to make sure that every member of the decision making group should feel that his/her opinion is important and he/she is an indispensible part of the process. This will help the leader to have the best possible effort from each member of the group and will also help to influence the members to share the responsibility of implementing the decision in the most effective and efficient manner.
To conclude, it could be said that the collaboration is essential for a far better organisational performance and there are empirical evidences to this theory and concept. When applied properly and in an effective manner it simply becomes the driver of the value creating activities of an organisation, which is reflected in an enhanced performance of the business at its every front. But setting the collaboration process alone is not the only condition to make the process successful. An effective and efficient collaborative leadership is required to steer the process towards achieving its purpose and goal, as otherwise, the process of collaboration may lead to mayhem rather than improving the performance of the company.
1) Community Tool Box. Chapter 13. Section 11. Collaborative Leadership:
2) Collaborative Leadership: How Citizens and Civic Leaders Can Make a Difference by David D. Chrislip and Carl. E Larson (1994)
3) McKinsey and Company. How do I Drive Effective Collaboration to deliver Real Business impact.
4) Meetings Around the World: The Impact ofCollaboration on Business Performance: A Frost & Sullivan White Paper Sponsored byVerizon Business and Microsoft. Available: