The role of a ‘leader’ occupies a significant position in achieving the organizational wide objectives such as increasing employee motivation, minimizing employee turn-over as well as advancing equality and fairness in the organization. Generally speaking, leadership is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ phenomenon since there is no universally accepted definition or style. Nonetheless, with increasing workplace diversity in the 21st-century organizations as well as fast deployment and adoption of interactive communication channels, the role of the leadership is changing and considered more challenging and demanding. It is assumed that every organization is diverse rather than monolithic, where people with diversified cultural & educational background, gender, and skill-sets provide immense learning and growth opportunities. This workforce diversity in the 21st-century organizations with advanced interactive communication channels motivates the development of new leadership styles to meet the variant organizational needs and requirements. Among these evolving leadership styles, the collaborative leadership occupies a key position.
Working collaboratively in any organization drives the concept of a shared vision to develop a new kind of leadership. This collective approach, in turn, motivates the leaders, employees, stakeholders, and other organizational agencies to interact in thought-provoking dialogues in order to find the best possible answers and solutions collectively, rather than producing heroic or a “great person approach”. Therefore, it is safe to argue that collaborative leadership style disrupts the traditional or bureaucratic approaches and triggers the idea of shared, distributed, network, relational, transformational, and horizontal leadership approaches that create the synergetic attitudes of collaborative leaders and promising high impact over the organizational performance.
It is widely believed that collaborative leadership style performs distinctly by establishing new rules and laws for joint actions, strengthening the fragile relationship between and among the different organizational hierarchy, and accelerating the search for novel ideas to resolve conflicts in the organizational performance.
Despite these immense benefits of working collectively, sharing power is a major constraint in developing collaboration which somehow creates the lack of trust. In addition, collaborative leadership style is found to be not working effectively at the time of making quick strategic decisions. In diverse workforce organizations, ethics and values are difficult to maintain in a collaborative environment. Societal & cultural forces, language barrier and organizational structure, can be a hindrance in demonstrating the collaborative leadership practices successfully. Another constraint is the generation gap in promoting the collaborative leadership effectively because younger employees found to be less interested in working collaboratively. Yet, collaborative leadership, when exercised in a context-sensitive way, can be a valuable leadership approach in supporting diverse people’s opportunities to meaningful and productive work, and consequently better organizational performance.
Shabnam Shaikh, Suvi Heikkinen & Anna-Maija Lämsä
University of Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics