Collective Leadership: Getting Everyone Involved

Today’s companies recognize that every individual on their team is important and that their contributions have an impact on the company as a whole. At the same time, in the age of big data, more information is widely available to all stakeholders, shaking up the traditional, top-down communication style. These changes bring about a state of collective leadership – where individuals can easily collaborate to make decisions that improve performance, at both the personal and business-wide level.

Organizations that embrace the idea of collective leadership early on will be more strategic and agile, fostering an open and collaborative environment. Once this happens, the company can benefit from a work culture that enhances employee engagement and is committed to continuous improvements. Consider how greater collaboration and the resulting increase in transparency can drive change and create better results throughout an organization:

Individual Development

As almost all work activities take place through digital interactions, there is a wealth of data created throughout the day, offering a level of insight and visibility into performance management that wasn’t possible even five years ago. Organizations can collect this data in real-time, analyze it and identify performance issues right away, instead of letting problems fester and get worse. As such, the concept of annual or quarterly performance reviews will soon be a thing of the past. Why wait for arbitrary milestones when improvements can be initiated on an immediate basis?

Better Business Performance

The case for immediate improvements expands beyond just personal development. For example, consider how traditional account management is typically reactive; the company might not learn until weeks after the fact that a certain account was slipping away. By using new account management software and the wealth of data and analytics they provide, the company can recognize potential problem areas and provide the needed support. Rather than one resource at the company collecting data and sharing it at a later date, real-time information can be accessed by different users, ensuring the team takes a collaborative approach to address client issues before it’s too late.

Listen to Everyone

With an open source environment, individuals can feel more included with business decisions and be more aware of what is going on in the company. By utilizing any of the ever-growing number of information-sharing tools – like wikis, social media platforms and intranets – all employees across business units, departments and physical locations can contribute more easily. This way, employees at all levels will feel that their ideas are heard, and the company benefits from a range of perspectives that might not be found in the boardroom.

Breaking Down Barriers

Embracing transparency and the many tools that improve communications enables the company to engage its employees like never before. This is especially important in light of the growing challenges of managing a multigenerational workforce. Gone are the days when senior employees could close the door on information and hoard it for power. With real-time data readily available for anyone in the company, those corporate hierarchies separating individuals, generations and job functions disappear, bringing everyone to the same level.

Like it or not, business and internal practices have become more transparent – and any attempts to hide, control or manipulate information will make you lose credibility. Instead, by embracing the level of visibility that new technology provides, organizations can ensure they foster a collaborative environment where all employees share their thoughts and the company benefits from the best ideas, regardless of who came up with them.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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