The Power of Collaboration: A Leadership Imperative

Nithya Ramaswamy

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, the importance of adept leadership in guiding teams cannot be overstated. The “new world of work,” characterised by technological advancements, shifting market dynamics, and the recent upheaval caused by the global pandemic, presents unique challenges and opportunities for leaders across all levels. As organisations navigate this uncharted territory, the role of a leader transcends beyond traditional management to becoming a catalyst for change, innovation, and resilience.

Leaders in this new era are tasked with empowering and steering their teams through complexities never seen before. They must champion agility, foster a culture of trust and inclusivity, and collaborate in hybrid or fully remote working environments. Their ability to lead effectively hinges on their capacity to understand and leverage the diverse strengths of their team members, while maintaining a clear vision and purpose. A calling for greater human leadership through being authentic, adaptive, and empowering towards their team is what is needed.

The changing nature of work demands leaders who are not just agile decision-makers but also empathetic coaches, capable of inspiring and uniting their teams towards shared goals. In a world where change is the only constant, these leaders are the linchpins that hold teams together, driving them towards success in an ever-evolving business landscape. What adds to the complexity is that the nature of teaming and what constitutes a team has also evolved. Teams may band and disband in shorter periods of time, while still high-performing and meeting project outcomes. Leaders are expected to show genuine care and concern for their team members’ wellbeing, so team members appreciate each other’s strengths and differences, while recognising the value of collaboration.

According to LHH’s latest team effectiveness research, the essence of successful team collaboration lies in clarity of purpose, a sense of belonging, and fostering agility. Leaders play a pivotal role in nurturing these aspects, ensuring that teams are not just groups of individuals working together but a cohesive unit striving towards common goals.

According to Patrick Lencioni,

“The single most untapped competitive advantage is teamwork,” and a leader’s ability to cultivate team effectiveness is critical.

Patrick Lencioni

Clarity of Purpose in Teams:

High-performing teams are rooted in a clear purpose. Each member understands the team’s objectives and how their work contributes to broader business goals. Each team member knows the answer to the question, “Why does what I do matter?” This clarity fosters alignment and drives collective action. A team’s success hinges on aligning around strategic goals, ensuring each member knows their unique role in achieving these goals.

Belonging:

Belonging is at the heart of team dynamics. In the post-pandemic era, the need for belonging has intensified. Trust and psychological safety are crucial for fostering belonging. Teams where members feel safe and express vulnerability exhibit stronger dynamics and better performance. The fluidity in the way teams interact has evolved, making it crucial to intentionally build deep connections and trust within teams.

Agility:

Agility in teams means being able to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. It involves setting up processes and norms that support flexibility and innovation and agree on how they will work together. Greater agility also helps facilitate decision-making amidst complexity. Agile teams are those that have established clear ways of working, understand acceptable norms and behaviours, and are committed to continuously improving these practices.

In summary, priming teams for effective collaboration involves more than just bringing people together. It requires the leader to take intentional actions to cultivate an environment where the team thrives as a collective, recognising each other’s strengths and where each team member can contribute meaningfully. Teams need to balance between functioning as individual contributors and operating interdependently. Taking the time to reflect individually and as a team, on what makes us thrive and also what might be limiting us, is a helpful exercise.

Reference:  IMD LHH CRF Report 2023

Nithya Ramaswamy

Solutions Director within the LHH Leadership Development practice, for Australia and New Zealand. Nithya brings over twenty years of experience in providing insights, consultancy, client engagement, leadership development design and delivery to leaders across a range of client organisations globally.