There have been many articles discussing the importance of collaboration in leadership, and usually these articles discuss the benefits of a collaborative leader. While I can agree that collaboration is a desired skill in many industries and at most levels I am inclined to discuss with you:
- The difference between collaboration and cowardice and
- How collaboration can become paralyzing to progress.
Collaboration vs. Cowardice
Simply put, the desire to “collaborate” on all things ALL THE TIME can be a cowardly attempt to avoid risk-taking and decision-making which are also highly desired competencies in today’s business world. The objective in collaboration should be to solicit input and make a decision.
Sometimes “collaboration” is a cover for a leader who is unwilling to make a decision that might come back to bite them somehow. Those who provide input to this kind of “leader” are usually scapegoats when the result of the collaboration is unfavorable. The leader who uses collaboration as a crutch for decision-making and risk-taking is unwilling to take the fall for a bad decision or back-fired risk.
Don’t be a coward, be a collaborator. Be a leader.
Paralysis to Progress
Collaboration is designed to gather the thoughts and input of key stakeholders or valued business partners, and it is not effective if it hinders progress. Set a timeline for those with whom you are collaborating so that you can have all of your input and feedback gathered in a timely fashion. And if feedback or input is not received in a timely manner, then you must move on without it. Remember the bit about risk-taking mentioned above? It’s necessary in leadership.
When you call it collaboration and it paralyzes progress then it can create a perception that you are not in control as a leader. Slipped deadlines and delayed projects and decisions are not looked upon favorably in business. Time is money.
Remember that not all things require collaboration because, although it is a desired skill, it doesn’t have to be used for all things all the time. Sometimes you must make a decision or take an informed risk to prevent paralysis of progress.
Have you ever had a leader who used collaboration as a cowardly crutch? Have you ever experienced paralysis of progress because of “collaboration?” Please submit your answers in the poll below and please comment to elaborate on your answers. I would love to hear from you!