From Engineer-it

Collaborative leadership, autocratic management

Autocratic managers make independent decisions, prefer not to consult with others, seek to marginalise those who challenge their decisions.

Collaborative leaders seek consensus from the team.  They expect their ideas to be challenged by others.

While autocratic management can be successful, it should be avoided. It involves too much risk, does not take advantage of the intellectual capital of the team and tends to result in unhappy working environments

Employee Collaborative leader Autocratic manager
Make a non-wilful mistake Treat as a learning opportunity. Threaten employee with punishment.
Point out faults in the processes being used Welcome suggestions and use them if appropriate; reward those who make suggestions that are adopted. Ignore such advice; treat such employees as whistle-blowers; seek to have them dismissed.

Leadership should be based on ability and character, not on rank or class.

In his book The secrets of StationX, about the Bletchley Park operation in WW2, Michael Smith quotes Bill Bundy as saying:

“It was a terrific human experience. This was a totally dedicated group working together in absolutely remarkable teamwork. Their whole structure was one where you might readily find a major working under a lieutenant or a civilian somewhat younger. Whoever was in charge was the person who had been judged to be the most effective at doing it.”

Principles for collaborative leadership.

  • Be a critical thinker and seek to ensure adoption of a critical thinking ethos in the team.
  • Being a collabrative leader implies that the views of all participant are sought e.g. go 'round the table' at meetings to find out the range of views. Seek to achieve consensus outcomes.
  • If you create sub-groups within the team, seek to ensure the group leaders have a collaborative style.  For a major managerial appointment, especially avoid those who are likely to be autocratic.
  • Delegate: do not micromanage people or sub-groups. Monitor performance and provide support when needed.
  • Arrange that the members of the team have an appropriate range of disciplinary skills
  • Seek to ensure that all involved are fully committed to the objective of the enterprise.
  • Seek to ensure that the effect of your leadership style has a positive effect on job satisfaction. People who are happy at their work tend to be better motivated and more productive.
  • Develop a network of contacts from whom you can seek assistance.

Two Scenarios

  1. "The boss is coming to visit us. Oh dear! I am not getting on well with my work and I wlll need conceal that from him in case he becomes angry with me."
  2. "The leader is coming to visit. Great! I am not getting on well with my work and I hope that she will be able to help me to do better."

Which situation is preferable?

Learning to be a collaborative leader

Those who direct the work of others should be students of leadership ethos.They should identfy and adopt good leadership principles; . Ability to operate as an effective leader may be a crucial factor in career success.