Leaders can be intelligent, knowledgeable and have a strong vision for the organization, but if they are not approachable, caring and trustworthy, their leadership will not be effective in inspiring high levels of employee engagement and performance, or in achieving long-term success for the organization.
Collaborative leadership has been described as “the intentional and skillful management of relationships that enables others to succeed individually while accomplishing a collective goal.”
Certain qualities and actions by leaders create this kind of collaborative, caring, culture in organizations.
- Trust and integrity
All successful relationships in life have trust at the center. In order to be fully engaged you have to trust a person, or an organization, to do what they say they will do, to do the right thing, at the right time and for the right person. Trust in leadership has a direct connection to organizational success. Author Stephen Covey explains in “Leading At The Speed of Trust” how high trust increases effectiveness and reduces costs in all relationships, interactions and transactions. Belief in the integrity of leaders and their actions encourages loyalty and inspires others to fully commit to taking the actions needed for individual and team success.
- Nurture relationships
People will follow leaders who they like and respect. It has been demonstrated that people are much more likely to seek out the leader who they perceive as nice, but less knowledgeable, than the jerk who has technical expertise. Building and nurturing personal relationships is important to long-term success. Collaborative leaders are approachable and available to all employees, listen with interest, convey enthusiasm and a positive outlook in their communication, and freely share knowledge and information to encourage others’ success.
- Create A Caring Culture
Create a “no man left behind” culture. Be kind, consistent and reliable in your leadership style. Teach first line supervisors and managers to become collaborative, caring leaders – model the courage to act, take responsibility, and inspire confidence and loyalty through consistent positive behavior.
Show care for the “whole” employee, not only what they do for you at work, but also about what’s happening in their life. Sincerely show interest and concern for their activities and interests outside of work. Take time to know about birthdays, inquire about the weekend, or training they might be doing for a race, or ask about how kids are doing at college. Truly caring about your employees, and consistently showing it, can accomplish more loyalty and productivity boost than any amount of money or recognition system.
If the leaders in your organization are not employing this collaborative approach you are probably not achieving the high level of employee engagement, productivity or organizational success that you would like. Look around and see if there are some collaborative leaders sprinkled throughout your team. If so, make a conscious effort to recognize the behaviors you value, model them yourself and encourage others to do so. The rewards will be quick and positive.
Mary Vail-Grube is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.