Or Live to Regret It
Research continues to show that diverse teams produce better results, with the caveat that good leadership must be in place. Collaborative leaders are able to bring together people from different backgrounds, disciplines, cultures, and generations; and leverage all they have to offer. Sadly, many organizations spend a vast amount of resources on homogenizing their human capital in the interest of equal understanding and capability. Instead, an organization that searches for new ideas in the midst of this diversity will have much more creativity and attract deep talent from a global pool. The chance for conflict in the midst of this diversity is also higher, but when steered towards constructive ideas and solutions, can empower and enlighten entire organizations.
Leaders must also strive to promote a mix of generations and experience levels. Research shows that people will choose to collaborate with others they know or those with similar backgrounds. This can kill creativity and innovation. Collaborative leaders must blend teams with responsibility and communication to maximize human capital.
Of course, leading by example is a great practice, and collaboration is no exception. This tone must come from the top down or your entire organization will suffer. In fact, Microsoft developed a viable table computer more than a decade ago but failed to bring it to market before Apple because competing Microsoft divisions conspired to kill the project.
Leaders of all areas of your organization must be a true team, with a responsibility and/or incentive for aligning the organizations various projects and operations into a coherent whole. Common organizational goals can shared across divisions and the process will cascade down to all levels.
Reducing politics, allowing for transparency, and encouraging personal relationships amongst leaders are all vital skills for collaborative leaders that you should aim to cultivate. This will lead to a stronger workforce, higher employee satisfaction, and improved bottom line results.