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When Leaders Struggle with Collaboration

Talented leaders often find collaboration unnatural

A client of Luis’s, let’s call him Charlie, a senior executive reporting directly to the CEO, was recently given feedback that despite his outstanding performance, his colleagues struggled to work with him. Charlie’s drive to deliver results, his no-nonsense approach to offering his viewpoints, and the intensity with which he approached most everything made him appear unnecessarily competitive, despite that being the furthest thing from his intent. As a result, without realizing it, Charlie lost the trust of some of his most critical stakeholders: his peers.

Charlie isn’t alone in his struggle. As consultants and executive coaches to high-performing executives, we see this frequently. It’s not uncommon for talented leaders to find collaboration unnatural. After all, rugged individualism set them apart and propelled their careers. And for many, that same focus on distinguishing themselves later becomes their demise.

Harvard Business Review research reveals that the top reasons for collaboration failure include silos (67 percent), no collaborative vision from leaders (32 percent), and senior managers not wanting to give up control (32 percent). Today’s workplace has become more collaborative than ever, with functional and divisional boundaries blurred beyond recognition, yet 39 percent of employees worldwide say people in their organization don’t collaborate enough. Most of an enterprise’s competitive value is created and delivered at organizational “seams,” where functions come together to form capabilities (think marketing, consumer analytics, and R&D, together developing innovation capability). That requires leaders of those functions to collaborate across the silos to deliver that value.

Please select this link to read the complete article from Harvard Business Review.

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