Collaborative Leadership: Building Relationships, Handling Conflict and Sharing Control (2nd ed.)

Strategic Direction

ISSN: 0258-0543

Article publication date: 7 October 2014



Writer, F. (2014), "Collaborative Leadership: Building Relationships, Handling Conflict and Sharing Control (2nd ed.)", Strategic Direction, Vol. 30 No. 11.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Collaborative Leadership: Building Relationships, Handling Conflict and Sharing Control (2nd ed.)

Article Type: Suggested reading From: Strategic Direction, Volume 30, Issue 11

David Archer and Alex Cameron, Routledge, 2013, ISBN: 9780415539487

David Archer and Alex Cameron’s Collaborative Leadership: Building Relationships, Handling Conflict and Sharing Control contains interesting ideas, insights and stories on collaborative leadership. The authors explain that effective collaboration is built on good governance, effective operations and the right behaviors.

Archer and Cameron quote a 2004 Harvard Business Review article revealing that 48 per cent of alliances between American firms ended in failure in less than two years. The authors add that collaboration is difficult – it takes much more energy and effort to deal with the complexity and frustration of working with others than to operate independently in competition with others.

Archer and Cameron remind the reader that collaboration is not a moral choice, but a business necessity. They assert that partnership is a cross-country marathon, not a sprint, and that participants need plenty of practice and a good map.

Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of the Renault-Nissan alliance, said that leaders of the future will need global empathy – not just empathy and sensitivity for people from their own culture but for people from different countries and cultures. To achieve this, collaborative leaders need to be part-politician and part-psychologist. That can be quite a challenge. The authors narrate how Carlos Ghosn worked collaboratively by building a series of cross-functional teams.

Archer and Cameron list the approaches that the collaborative leader can take when dealing with conflict in collaborative relationships: understanding the needs of groups; finding the greater good; holding difficult conversations; mediating a solution; putting the right governance in place; and making conflict-handling part of the culture.

To lead, people have to be human. Collaborative leaders need to be tactful and diplomatic. The authors advise people to be authentic in all they do.

Archer and Cameron point out that, for leaders to collaborate effectively, they must:

* create an environment where people work together to achieve joint goals;

* lead and motivate people to be loyal to collaborative groups;

* be a role model for their staff;

* look forward as well as backwards, at perception data as well as hard facts, internally at causes as well as externally at outputs and at collective as well as individual performance;

* look for where value might be created at the rough edges between the different cultures in the relationship, and what might put this value at risk;

* prepare for how they are going to handle conflict well in advance;

* have the courage to act for the long term;

* invest in strong personal relationships all the way through the partnership, and externally with stakeholders, as nothing can beat real human connections when things go wrong;

* be courageous and take the difficult decisions, balancing the needs of the whole collaboration with the needs of one’s own organization; and

* share the plaudits as well as the pain across the collaboration.

The book is well researched and referenced, and written in simple and straightforward language. The authors base the book on their practical experience. This is a good resource for learners and leaders.

Reviewed by Professor M.S. Rao, Book reviewer, Human Resource Management International Digest.

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