Roundtable I: Collaborative Leadership

The inaugural roundtable took place at the Tuck School of Business, in Hanover, N.H., in May 2012. It initiated a thought-provoking discussion about credible alternative leadership models to the traditional hierarchy, with the focus on the compelling notion of collaborative leadership. Implicitly linked and also discussed were the necessary competencies required of collaborative leaders, their traits and behaviors. The dialogue further broadened to include the necessary structures and systems to support collaboration, as well as the role company culture plays.

To facilitate open and lively discussion, the roundtable participants started the day by sharing their initial thoughts on the subject of collaborative leadership, related challenges they face at work, and what they hoped to take away from the ensuing sessions. The focal questions of the day included:

  • How important is collaborative leadership in your organization and why?
  • What are the business challenges or opportunities that are demanding effective collaborative leadership in your organization?
  • Which behaviors define collaborative leadership?

It was made apparent that the business environment is indeed demanding more collaboration, even of large, traditional firms with rigid chains of command. This need applies to both internal and external alliances. It was acknowledged that the global economy adds a layer of complexity, particularly in developing markets, with multicultural, multinational leadership issues that require collaboration. Yet, while the importance of collaborative leadership was recognized, it was also acknowledged that it remained a relatively young effort that required better understanding and implementation.