Leadership is traditionally considered to be a fairly solitary existence, but I would argue that there is a significant role for collaboration in leadership. Wherever we spend our time as humans, we are part of a collective – a team, a community, a family – and ideally a diverse and inclusive one, where we can work together in balance. When a leader can assemble such a group of harmonious individuals, all working towards the same goal collaboratively, great things happen.

This is something explored by Lynne Twist in her book Living a Committed Life, where she “shows how to make and keep commitments, engage in individual and collective action, and discover ways to connect and collaborate to make a difference.” It’s an inspiring and thought-provoking read.

The benefits of collaboration and balance were also brought home to me the other evening after attending a concert at Wembley Arena. Wembley Stadium was also hosting a gig that night – Harry Styles in this instance, with feather boas and cowboys hats the fan uniform of choice! At the end of the performances, well over 100,000 people spilled out onto the street, most of whom headed towards the station to get home.  It was quite a crowd, but what struck me was the incredible sense of camaraderie and collaboration within the huge, diverse group of people. The friendliness and patience shown by everyone as we inched our way along the road for around two hours was extraordinary, with no aggravation or altercations from what I could see.

Why was this? The only explanation I could come up with was that the number of women far outweighed the number of men. It really hit me what a different energy this created, and what a balance it was to the ‘go get it’, usually far more competitive energy in a male-dominated group.

As Lynne Twist argues in her book, as we stride forwards as a race, what is becoming clearer and clearer is the need for this balance to unfold, ever greater, so that we can learn the lessons of the last centuries and forge our journey towards the 2100s. Without greater balance, diversity and collaboration, we will continue to make the same mistakes and perpetuate the inequalities of the past.

Research shows that diverse workforces demonstrate better decision making, innovation and problem solving, proving that collaboration and balance enable leaders to bring out the best in each individual, for the collective good. But it’s important to note that merely having a diverse workforce is not enough; it is down to the leader to instil in each person a sense of empowerment and belonging, where they feel safe to contribute their ideas and achieve their full potential. 

We’ve written extensively in our blog about the importance of purpose in leadership. Identifying our own personal purpose and finding shared values within a team are the secret to what we call Profit and Smiles – the creation of a high performing organisation where each member is fulfilled and motivated. By instilling a sense of collaboration in leadership, the passion and commitment of a leader can permeate an entire organisation and great transformations happen. Balance and diversity are the key to sustained success.

As Lynne Twist writes, “People often think that great leaders are born, not made – that they are somehow destined for greatness. I believe, however, it’s the opposite – that committing oneself to an inspiring cause is what forges you into a great human being. It’s the commitment that shapes you into who you need to be to fulfil it.”

I’m ready to take on this leadership challenge. Are you?

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