Collaborative Leadership Skills in a Turbulent World

RP_GamingTechnological advances are disrupting the status quo and creating turbulence. Industries are converging and new competitors are emerging at lightning speed. At the same time, resources are constrained and it demands that we rethink the way we think about materials.

Companies need to seek outside their own ecosystem for ideas and execution in timely speed and collaborate. What is collaboration all about – and what kind of leadership attitude does it take?

Valuable materials are leaking from our economies. In a world where demand and competition for finite, and sometimes scarce resources, will continue to increase. Where pressure on resources is causing greater environmental degradation and fragility. In such a world we can benefit economically and environmentally from making better use of those resources. There is a strong business case for improving resource productivity. It is estimated, that resource efficiency improvements all along the value chain could reduce the material input needs by 17-24% by 2030. A better use of resources could represent an overall savings potential of €630 billion per year, for the European industry alone.

Since the industrial revolution, waste has constantly grown. This is because our economies have used a “take-make-consume and dispose pattern of growth – a linear model, which assumes that resources are abundant, available and cheap to dispose of. That is why it is called the Circular Economy, it is simply circular. We will not dispose it, but recirculate it into the economy.

The Circular Economy is also described as the Collaboration Economy. Primarily because it is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations. In a time of rapid change, the ability to innovate quickly and effectively, again and again, is perhaps the only enduring competitive advantage. Those firms that can innovate constantly will thrive. Those that do not, or cannot, will be left behind.

It is about decoupling growth from constrained resources through innovation. It is about rethinking materials, methods of make, products, how to partner and business models to solve complex challenges. Simply put: We all have to re-challenge the mental model of what materials are. Your challenge in this playing field is, that the people who will make you and your business successful does not necessarily work in your own organization. They may not even share your language, beliefs, manner or behaviors. But without their skills and effort, you will never deliver the results you need to as a leader in today’s world. That is why you need to learn the discipline of collaboration. It is a competency.

Collaboration isn’t simply about “being nice to each other”. Effective collaboration, whether between individuals or whole businesses, is about strong, robust relationships where partners can scrutinize each other and deal with conflicts constructively in an environment based on trust.

Wikipedia says: “A Collaboration is a purposeful relationship in which all parties strategically choose to cooperate in order to achieve shared or overlapping objectives.”

The Collaboration Model from Collaboration Growers has 6 cornerstones:

  • Define the need and create awareness
  • Build the guiding governance
  • Build the collaboration platform
  • Define the customer collaborative activities
  • Get moving: Seek, assess, validate and engage
  • Stay on top of things: Manage and exit

Collaborative leadership is the type of leadership required to get results across the organizational boundaries. It requires a basic leadership skill set. It is all about:

  • Confrontation: Collaborative leaders need to be able to handle conflict early. It is called constructive disagreement.
  • Influence: Collaborative leaders need to be able to share control and determine their strategy for influencing others
  • Engage and learn: Collaborative leaders can not be successful without the skills of networking and relationship building. It needs a recursive process of trial and error.
  • Integrative decision-making: Much of creating something novel and useful arises from combining existing ideas, including ideas that once seemed mutually exclusive.
  • Patience and Urgency: Creativity can not be scheduled. People need time to absorb and digest. To make integrative decisions possible, leaders must know when to allow debate and discovery and when to move on to decision making and execution.
  • Self-awareness: A collaborative leader must be underpinned by a willingness to truly listen and be open minded to the view of others

The world needs new solutions & more effective collaboration to solve some of the biggest challenges. That is why we inspire companies to move to more open forms of strategic innovation. We are doing that by mobilizing capabilities and resources for mutual benefits and by putting more focus on trust in the relationship. Get inspired on the Collaboration Growers platform.

The Leaders guide to Creating Successful Strategic Partnerships

RP_Group_blueToday partnerships are becoming prominent growth engines inside many companies. Strategic partnerships are becoming more vital to the competitive advantage of businesses. Learn why it is important and get tools to create successful strategic partnerships in this blog post.    

Businesses operate in volatile and uncertain environments. If you want to win in this type of environment it is necessary to learn to explore opportunities with speed and decisiveness. Also, companies are increasingly expected to join with other organizations and companies, both public and private, to not only address social and environmental problems but also solve them. It is not trendy to own assets – rather it is trendy to have the possibility to access assets, hence leveraging external resources (forming strategic partnerships) rather than building it within the company is top of mind with many executives.

The value derived from the right partnerships can be huge. Partnerships can help fuel greater market share and give a competitive advantage. They can increase revenue, lead to stronger customer loyalty and enhance financial performance.

A good strategic partnership according to Wikipedia is: “A party with which a long-term agreement is reached for sharing of physical and/or intellectual resources in an achievement of defined common objective”. A partnership to me is a relationship with shared economics, mutual successes, perhaps shared customers and with a culture to co-develop. Most importantly both parties must feel equitable, get good value from the arrangement, and the partnership is achieving its objectives.

What does it take to create a successful strategic partnership? Stefan Lindegaard, author of “Making open innovation work” mentions, that during a conversation with P&G’s Open Innovation Manager Chris Toen he listed trust and integrity as two of the characteristics P&G are looking for in their strategic partnerships. Also, he mentions good chemistry in the working relationship, responsive partners who align with purpose, values, and principles. Barriers for trust is typically something which we take for granted, something which is typically part of the way we live and have organized our business life. Most companies view external partners as someone who is paid to deliver a specific service rather than a source of co-creation. Large companies can be inherently skeptical about the capabilities of small companies, though we must not forget that.

Never before have we had access to so many tools to connect and collaborate with others. These connections are transcending organizational and national boundaries and inspiring so many new people to step into the responsibility of contributing to change. This generation of change makers is spreading out through all areas of society, business, and government, and they’re not going to compromise on profit versus planet versus people, they’re going to invent a new way.

The must do’s:

The best partnerships have a shared vision and purpose, clear objectives with defined KPIs, adequate resourcing and management for operationalising, and transparent, effective governance. Appreciation for and experience in partnership management is very helpful to ensure they are effective. Professional facilitators may be helpful for some partnerships where this experience is not available in the house. When drafting the vision it is important to define a compelling picture of what the partnership can achieve and specifically how it is going to get there.

I like to work with structure. Hence the first phase would be to choose the right partners. The second phase would be to introduce the new partnerships to the organization and the third phase is about managing the partnership. This will include the practical every day nurturing of the partnership to help it flourish and ensure that the partnership moves in the right direction.

A structure helps to:

  • Bring awareness and reinforcement about partnerships internally.
  • Helps build commitment and support from internal managers.
  • Keeps the value and goals of partnerships clearly in focus for internal managers and all stakeholders
  • Put’s in place a method to flag a problem and address it
  • Repeatability: Learn and repeat successes

If you would like to be inspired by other Strategic Partnerships then there is a list of 11 case stories right here.

The world needs new solutions & more effective collaboration to solve some of the biggest challenges. That is why we inspire companies to move to more open forms of strategic innovation. We are doing that by mobilizing capabilities and resources for mutual benefits and by putting more focus on trust in the relationship. Get inspired on the Collaboration Growers platform.

Passion & Purpose – Leadership skills in the Collaborative Economy

rp_succes_man_blueIn the future, only brands, which work to make life better for mankind will survive. What is it that you can do as a leader in order to make life better for mankind?

Successful leaders are shifting their leadership styles and increasingly engaging the “mind, heart and soul” of people. Conscious Leadership is the new master competency to handle today’s complex business challenges in a world that is increasingly demanding “doing well by doing good”. Maximizing shareholder wealth and profit maximization are no longer the dominant driving forces in most long-lasting financially successful companies. Success is not just measured in profit but in the five Ps: passion, purpose, people, planet and profit.

“The Zen Master would say that profits are what happen when you do everything else right.”  — Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia Founder

The conscious, authentic leader shows genuine responsibility, integrity, humility, honest communication, win-win negotiation skills, outstanding ability to collaborate with others, greater self-awareness and high levels of emotional mastery. Authentic leaders are visionary, thinking long-term, are brave and dare to say no to ideas, even though they may appear attractive in the short term. They are ethnocentric, have high emotional intelligence, put themselves in the front and show how it can be done. It requires great willpower, perseverance, good ability to set boundaries and competent, clear communication. Co-creation, co-action and collaboration comes into focus, and choices based on what is good for me, good for you and good for all prejudice. It has to have a purpose.


“I want to work for a company that contributes to and is part of the community.  I want something not just to invest in.  I want something to believe in.” – Anita Roddick, the Body Shop Founder

According to a study made by Deloitte (Millenial Survey) 77% of the new millennium generation choose to work for meaningful firms. Companies or organizations that work on the basis of meaningfulness has a greater purpose for their existence than just selling a product and attracts automatically better labor because employees can choose work that matches their own values and passion. The modern consumer is also very aware of corporate behavior, a trend that will only be strengthened in the future. As all people increasingly become more authentic, consumers will even more demand that companies and organizations are transparent.

It is important to create a culture and human understanding, which creates space for innovation, trial, error, learning and continuous improvement. There is a need for a learning process that allows success, and it is indeed rare that success will be created without trial and error. It takes strength to be – and allow – our own and others’ vulnerability and human imperfection. We must all earn to live our lives, do business, commit entrepreneurship and lead in a way that restores the balance between people and planet. We have to rediscover the connection, first of all know that each of us taking responsibility for ourselves first, then guides our closest. When we can manage ourselves and our nearest with authentic consciousness, we are ready to make a difference on a larger scale.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs, Apple Founder and past CEO

Steve Jobs is the best example I can think of in relation to how passion can change and influence people’s life’s. An increasing body of research shows, that the best leaders not only demonstrate commitment to a worthwhile vision, they also have a genuine passion for work, ability to create trusting relationships and are able to maintain a focus on creating results, that are aligned with the larger organizational mission.

These leaders have realized that conventional KPIs are necessary but not sufficient to inform them about how things are. They also know how to see and interpret the intangible and immeasurable. These are skills that take genuine experience, practice and demand higher degrees of awareness and maturity. In this “creative economy” it is no longer enough to treat humans like material resources which can be commanded and controlled. Instead great leadership and a culture of learning and excellence is being created through the pursuit of higher levels of personal mastery and genuine self-actualization at work.

Passion appear when people are allowed to be themselves and, if we foster a community that focuses on cultivating and celebrating the individual’s authenticity. Authentic leaders understand that the more support and freedom people get to be authentic, the better they feel about themselves, which means that they are more passionate, produce better and more creative solutions and innovation – and provide a high degree value in companies and society.

The opposite happens when controlled by control and fear – people are absent and uninvolved, without passion and commitment. It can cause stress, depression, lack of vitality and sickness of body and mind. And society will not benefit from this individual innovative and creative engagement. It is expensive for society.

The world needs new solutions & more effective collaboration to solve some of the biggest challenges. That is why we inspire companies to move to more open forms of strategic innovation. We are doing that by mobilizing capabilities and resources for mutual benefits and by putting more focus on trust in the relationship. Get inspired on the Collaboration Growers platform.

Collaborative Leadership