Collaborative Leadership

Most leadership models focus on hierarchical management and for good reason–hierarchical management will always be needed within vertically integrated silos. But when organizations have to work hand-in-hand with other organizations in government-industrial partnerships like healthcare or finance, then the existing policies that define the silos have to be rethought to allow leaders to reach across organizational boundaries in sustainable inter-dependencies to get work done. This complex partnering has a name. It’s called a heterarchical structure and is difficult to implement because individual organizations put policies in place that handcuff executives from collaborating. For example, bonus structures often produce the unintended consequence of executives working within their own organizational boundaries (their tribe) to the detriment of the industry or even the common public good. The reason for this recent awareness of the adverse consequences of “traditional measures” is because in the 21st century we are not as isolated as we were in the last century. With free trade agreements, we now have interdependencies with other governments and organizations we have never had before. Therefore, it has become imperative that leaders collaborate across organizational boundaries in a way that is both legal and sustainable. Unfortunately, most leaders were trained in the last century and are using the tools of their trade. Those teachings and that learning will produce perverse outcomes. Thus, NetForm analysis has developed several approaches to solve these problems. First, it has produced algorithms that identify future collaborative leaders and recognizes them early in the succession process. That sends a clear signal to the remaining culture. Secondly, it identifies from among existing leaders, those behaviors to reward with new compensation procedures and suggests coaching for any remedial cases. This requires a rethinking of existing compensation policies. In this instance, NetForm has had to work with governance boards to present the case for considering changing some industrial policies by explicit recognition of collaborative behaviors. NetForm has worked with IBM, Shell Oil, Mobil Oil and the U.S. government on projects of this nature.

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