Collaborative Leadership Blog

How to Be a Collaborative Leader for Innovation & Growth

The leadership that got businesses to where they are today will no longer suffice to sustain innovation and growth in the future. In a very volatile and uncertain market, where innovation and growth are essential to survival, leadership must become significantly more agile, flexible, adaptive, transparent, and engage the workforce to build ownership of the company’s vision, strategy, and every day work. The new paradigm for business leadership that will achieve these goals is collaborative leadership at the individual, team, and organizational levels.

A Volatile Market Requires a New Leadership Approach
We live in challenging times for business, times of rapid change, uncertain markets, faster technological innovation, greater ambiguity, and essential interdependence. To innovate and grow in this volatile market, and to attract and retain top talent in the digital generation, businesses must transform their cultures and leadership. Hani Ashkar, Middle East Senior Partner for PwC has said businesses must transform their cultures to increase innovation, which requires not only making internal operational changes, but also more people collaboration. IBM found that 57% of the companies surveyed who use collaboration are more likely to have better bottom-line results than those who don’t.

Collaborative Leadership: The New Paradigm
Collaborative leadership not only creates a work culture based on trust and respect that enable innovation, but also is more profitable because it gives the workforce greater ownership of the business’ vision, mission, strategy, and work processes. By tapping into the productive energy of the workforce, businesses will unleash the creative potential of their people, and sustain revenue growth.

Collaborative Leadership is defined as the ability to lead and operate from principle,create a trust-based culture, walk the talk, engage the workforce, ensure their ownership of the company’s vision, strategy, and work processes, so that the company produces sustainable results. Collaborative leadership happens at three levels: individual, team, and organization. Here are some specifics:

Creating Collaborative Leadership at 3 Levels:

  • Leads by principle, not power or politics
  • Of the 7 Principles of the Collaborative Work Ethic™, ownership is the most important
  • People take care of what they own—the vision, strategy, business processes, and their own work
  • Of the 8 Collaborative Leadership Practices™, in addition to building a high level of engagement among the workforce, leaders are authentic, acknowledge the contributions of others, and create a learning organization


  • Build high trust work relationships among the team members
  • Build a  culture of psychological safety, trust, and innovation by creating what are called Operating Agreements™, a team governance process
  • There are 14 Operating Agreements, the most important of which is Decision-Making
  • A Team Charter ensures clarity on mission, deliverables, roles, and communications
  • Leverage that team culture into work across the organization



  • Implement an ownership strategy to engage the workforce
  • Give the  workforce ownership of  their jobs
  • Build alignment on company values, vision, mission, and strategy
  • Create an ongoing 2 way communication process
  • Build a sustainable collaborative community
  • Create a culture that values everyone’s contribution
  • Create a team-based organization
  • Evaluate performance based on team contributions to company results, in addition to individual performance

In Closing
The new paradigm for business leadership in a volatile marketplace and interdependent world is collaborative leadership. It is more than principles and practices, though. It is a new way of leading and managing that will ensure sustained innovation and growth by creating a culture of trust, respect, openness, and ownership.