Brash. Bold. Take charge. A headstrong, sword-in-the-air personality that leads employees into battle: that’s the kind of person it takes to lead a department or even a company toward success…right?

“Wrong,” says much of the dialogue in the HR space this week. While someone with that kind of personality can be successful, the best results often come from leaders who trust the employees they’ve hired to make decisions and get the job done. How can your leadership development program highlight this mindset and instill an environment of collaboration in your company?

Put down the baton: Lolly Daskal, writing on her personal blog, says that leaders should stop trying to orchestrate success and instead trust the teams they’ve put in place. Employees are realizing more and more often that they bring something to the table. They have talents that, when utilized properly, can be of benefit to the company. It’s time for leaders, Daskal says, to do just that, to bring the right people together and let those talents take over.

“When we step aside to allow innovation and creativity to emerge, we are not abrogating our leadership responsibilities or turning our backs on our business acumen. What we are really doing is simply becoming the musicians we are meant to be—the leaders we know we are, building businesses into what we know they can become.”

Take time to reflect: Vanmay Tora agrees with Daskal. In the third part of his series on collaborative leadership at the QAspire blog, Tora writes that leaders must be aware of the talents of their team and then put all the team members in a place where they can succeed. Perhaps more importantly, those leaders need to know their own strengths and weaknesses and when to cede something to a team member who may be better suited to the task. It’s this self-awareness that Tora says is key to becoming a successful collaborative leader, and it’s something that may require scheduled time for self-reflection to achieve.

Be humble: The ability of leaders to admit that they may not have all the answers doesn’t go unnoticed, say Jeanine Prime and Elizabeth Salib, on the blog at the Harvard Business Review. And that’s especially true in what’s becoming an increasingly global business world. Their firm, Catalyst Research Center for Advancing Leader Effectiveness, recently completed a study that found employees from diverse backgrounds who reported seeing altruistic or humble behavior from their leaders felt more included on their teams. That feeling of inclusion came from two areas, and one of those was uniqueness. When employees feel that they bring a distinct talent or skill to the team, they feel as though they belong.

The research also found that this feeling of inclusion and belonging was more than just a nice thing for the employees, it had a business benefit. These employees who saw humility from their leaders reported that they were more innovative, more likely to help pick up slack for others, and more likely to go above and beyond their job description.

Does your leadership development program teach your leaders to cede control, put down the baton, and trust their people? If not, maybe it’s time to start considering how you can include this mindset shift into your leadership training.

16 May 2014

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