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Collaboration: Managers Who Share Power, Have More Power"It's Good to be the King !" -- Mel Brooks, History of the World: Part I
Everyone talks about collaboration but few people really practice it, especially when they have worked so hard to earn that title. But the title doesn't mean squat if no one is working with you.
While royalty is born to his or her station in life, ordinary people have to work to achieve a position of power. It is often difficult for individuals who have finally arrived to suddenly discover that the strength of their power (or influence) rests in the hands of others -- usually the people they manage.
Middle and upper managers who were trained in the command and control management school "know" that collaboration is important in today's rapidly changing business environment. While providing lip-service to the subject and often sponsoring staff training sessions on collaboration, they still find it disconcerting, difficult and even impossible to give up their imperial role.
What's the fun of being boss if you can't boss?
Legislators, law enforcement, the workforce and investing public have watched the tsarist activities of senior executives with their financial mismanagement and financial greed. Individuals and organizations have begun to seriously question the disturbing trend of the cook eating before the rest of the family and guests?and gorging themselves with wild abandon!
There is a paradigm shift taking place that says the provincial bureaucratic corporate pyramid has outlived its usefulness and that micro-management is no longer feasible or desirable.
New Environment Forces Change
Today we operate in a knowledge economy. In this type of environment, you can't simply order people to work harder, smarter, or faster and to ignore the information that surrounds them. Knowledge workers get their information from all sides, not just from the top down. If they were properly hired and trained, they know more about their work than their bosses and supervisors.
Monopolistic managing doesn't work. People need to be free, encouraged and constantly reminded to adapt and innovate. Effective individuals and teams that are empowered will drive the success of their separate organizations, functions and activities. If their collaborative efforts aren't constantly encouraged the organization's future is in jeopardy.
But collaboration doesn't just happen. Senior management must insist that it is carried out and practiced at every level. They must also lead by example. But the dirty little secret is that many leaders are uncomfortable with such structures. They cling to imperial roles, because as Mel Brooks said, "It's good to be the king!" It is a tremendous stroke for the leader's ego. Sharing power and sharing information doesn't enhance the alpha-male's/female's well being. It simply makes the people who know and do the work feel better.
So why is true collaboration -- talking-the-talk and walking-the-walk -- in the best interest of your organization and your senior management?
In today's knowledge economy, firms have to realize that the real power, market position and strategic/tactical advantage are in the hands of knowledge workers. Not owners, not managers. The prime imperative for today's leaders and senior management is to meet the needs of these workers.
Today's Knowledge Worker
Knowledge workers -- the best -- have a number of choices as to where they work and the terms of their employment. Since 1985, 25 percent of the American workforce has been laid off at least once. As a result, the bond between the organization, its management and knowledge workers is tenuous at best.
These people want meaning and direction.
They want a sense of significance and self-satisfaction.
They expect trust in and from their leaders.
They are inspired by a sense of hope and optimism.
They demand results.
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