Strategic Leadership Tips to Expedite Collaborative Decision-Making

February 20, 2018
By Chris Jackson, The Clearing

Collaboration is a critical aspect to any successful company. It is a source of competitive advantage in most industries where organizations that promote more collaborative efforts are rewarded with greater outcomes. Opportunities to plan strategies, focus priorities, and organize responses continue to rise across companies. However, having more collaborative meetings does not mean they are effective. More often than not, corporate decisions fail because of organizational rather than analytical challenges in collaboration.

Leaders who fail to influence collaboration in groups often lack skill in facilitation techniques or struggle to balance facilitating with other roles they may hold such as project manager or subject matter expert (SME).


Great leaders are able to master multiple leadership styles. A great leader does not wake up in the morning and decide they will operate one way or the other for the day – they will adjust their style depending on the type of meeting, outcomes desired, and timeline for implementation. We call this the Leadership Spectrum. On one end of this spectrum is Command and Control, which is preferred when time is of the essence and a decision must be made quickly. Perfection is the enemy of progress when it comes to this style of leadership. On the other end is Consensus – where the focus is high stakes strategic planning and visioning. This is where a leader must facilitate collaborative decision-making.

So how does one ensure they can enroll the group in the process and avoid pitfalls that can stymie progress or hinder successful outcomes?


Leaders can either lead a group collaboratively or authoritatively:
” Collaborative leaders will roll up their sleeves, brainstorm with the group, and help formulate recommendations to reach outcomes. This style generates options, but not decisions.
” Authoritative leaders will assume a hierarchal position in the group and have the right to make decisions based on the recommendations that the group creates.

Each of these roles has merit in a collaborative group setting. What is most important is that once a leader chooses one role, they remain in that role throughout the meeting. Often, leaders will make the mistake of assuming a collaborative role and then making authoritative decisions. This is known as SHAPE SHIFTING and it can derail collaborative decision-making.

There are three key tips to help leaders avoid the pitfall of shifting styles:
1. Establish with the group whether you will be taking a collaborative role or an authoritarian role in the group dynamic.
2. Be intentional and explicit in choosing the role that best fits the situation.
3. Once you have established your role – Don’t Shift!


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