Our Approach

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Step One – Connecting the Spokes

The first step in changing leadership styles is to begin to create individual connections between members of the team. People within a team may already have personal relationships with each other, and these people are much more likely to work constructively, self-sufficiently and interdependently.

Whilst team members still may not be able to communicate with those on the other side of the team’s circle, they can begin to handle problems and work more efficiently and effectively with those that work either side of them.

How?

Not only are they cutting out the time they would usually have to wait whilst the manager runs information up and down the spokes of their wheel, but they are also respecting each other personally. Why? When you promise a deadline to someone you like, you don’t want to disappoint them. Same goes for other members of the team, once they are communicating face-to-face with each other promises are more likely to be kept.

This process can be inhibited if the manager of the team does not want to release the power of knowing and controlling all the information and processes. The manager is still vital to the team, however, as broader information and team and project goals still need to be managed and communicated across the team’s circle and also up the hierarchy. The manager also needs to be aware of – but not control – the general directions within each relationship’s micro-collaboration, and communicate these directions across the team, to ensure that everything is headed towards a united purpose.

As these co-worker relationships strengthen, team members will naturally begin to collaborate, purely out of a ‘like’ for their colleague. With a ‘like’ comes respect, communication and care. When people feel that they are being ‘liked’ by their colleagues, they will begin to enjoy work and bring ‘all of themselves’ to work on a daily basis.

Happier Staff = Higher Productivity = Greater Economy

(I’m no mathematician, but I’m 100% sure the equation balances).

Step Two – Implementing the Wheel

Once independent relationships have been developed between co-workers, these micro-collaborations can start to be connected to each other, so much so that a full wheel of communication is formed around the manager.

Team members are now communicating through a one-to-one relationship, interacting with their co-workers from a place of respect or ‘like’, and so connecting the spokes of the wheel to create a circular environment that can begin to roll forward.

People begin to be ‘in it for the team’, pushing to reach deadlines in advance so as to accommodate the schedule of a team mate. Once someone has rearranged their own schedule for the sake of the team, the glue holding the collaborative wheel together begins to set, with this commitment and dedication becoming the norm within the team.

The role of the manager now begins to change significantly. He or she is now leading in a completely different manner than before. Rather than controlling the information that is passing along the spokes, the manager is now encouraging the circulation of information, sharing the united goals so everyone within the team is aware of the desired outcome. This union within the team begins to create a We, with peers working together to achieved and carry common goals and objectives forward.

This momentum begins to push the collaborative wheel forward. Team members are now not only committed to each of their independent relationships, but also to the good of the team and their team’s goals, objectives and aspirations.

Step Three – Pumped-Up Tyres

The Collaborative Wheel is now moving forward, with the manager leading from a place of direction, pointing the team in the right direction, but not having to provide all the drive to keep the wheel rolling.

The one-to-one connections (see Step One – Connecting the Spokes) are developing strongly, and with every example of collaborative action the morale of the team grows. Each time their collaborative endeavours are a success, it pumps their Collaborative Wheel’s tyres a little more, allowing them to roll faster and faster.

This group of colleagues is now becoming a High Performance Team, working more efficiently, meeting and beating deadlines, and enjoying themselves whilst doing it.

The manager now moves into the final stage of the Collaborative Leadership Style. The manager now encourages a dynamic and shared leadership style, leaving the center of the circle open for the expert in the field to step into and share their knowledge. The manager is now creating a system of leadership where expertise outranks rank.

The manager moves in and out of the center of the circle, stepping out into the circle with everyone and facilitating the expert taking the step into the center when his or her expertise is required.

This requires a lot of trust from the manager, allowing themselves to become a part of their team and remaining confident that the communication throughout the team is strong enough to keep their team moving in the right direction. Occasionally, the team may get off course, and it is then that the manager needs to step back in to re-direct the wheel towards its final destination.

The manager also steps into a place of mediator; facilitating conflict resolution and ensuring all parties get their needs met within the teams processes. Sometimes colleagues can work with the best intentions at heart, but actually be working out of sync with the rest of their team. It is then the manager’s responsibility that all communications remain transparent and that a unified goal is maintained.

As this Collaborative Culture develops, other teams within the organisation will begin to observe the increased productivity and general morale. More people will want to work in this way, people will work more efficiently this way, businesses will make more money this way, and people will be happier this way.

I have worked with Stephen over the past 4 years in the pursuit of good to great. The focus has been creating a values based organisation that thrives on involving our people. The health of internal relationships has been reviewed and interface conversations implemented to ensure relationships are healthy and always developing across the business – Recommend him highly.

Lance Deacon

Joint Managing Director, Dyson Group of Companies

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