Traditional Versus Collaborative Leadership

“Collaboration isn’t about being best friends, or even necessarily liking everyone you’re working with. It is about putting all and any baggage aside, bringing your best self to the table, and focusing on the common goal.”
-Meghan M. Biro

The table below was developed from the extensive work found on the  Collaborative Leadership website of the Leadership Development National Excellence Collaborative.

traditional vs collaborative leadershipCollaborative leadership is all about the intentional development of relationships that enables individual successes by stakeholders while accomplishing a collective outcome. As you look at the comparisons in the table it is clear that most of the world seems to reside in the rigid world of positional leadership described in the left column. There is, however, a lot more collaborative leadership going on out there (or at least headed in that direction) than you might think.

Living in the digital age makes collaborative leadership easier to accomplish, because the open sharing of information is at the heart of making it work. Micro meetings, quick polling, crowdsourcing, and other realities of a life immersed in portable, digital information make once idealistic ideas like self-governance, and broad participation possible.

Another key difference between traditional and collaborative leadership is that the latter is at its core, rooted in trust. When stakeholders voices are not only heard, but in fact, embraced for their valuable perspective; trust is cultivated, and shared time and effort result in productivity.

More to come, as this concept is closely tied to a number of the others discussed here.

5 thoughts on “Traditional Versus Collaborative Leadership

  1. I describe collaborative leadership as “facilitating mutual enhancement among those working for a common purpose.” Collaborative leaders encourage partners to help each other become the best that they can be while sharing the risks, responsibilities, resources, and rewards of common efforts.

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    • Thanks for the definition Arthur. It seems as though when trust develops to the point where people are thinking of mutual benefit by default, traditional notions of leadership become unnecessary. Collaborative leadership works like a gift economy.

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      • Thanks, John. Very well stated. I think we must have had similar experiences with various kinds of leadership over the years. Being able to benefit from the advantages of collaborative leadership certainly has made working with others much more productive and enjoyable as well.

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