In the post-pandemic world, it’s become clear that traditional, top-down management styles no longer work. To succeed in this new era, managers must embrace more collaborative approaches.

That’s where collaborative leadership comes in.

This leadership style thrives on teamwork, open communication, and active involvement from all team members. Fostering a culture of collaboration helps empower your team to work together toward shared goals and achieve great results.

In this article, we’ll define collaborative leadership, explore its significance in the workplace, and delve into the trends driving its adoption. We’ll also provide practical tips to help you implement this approach in your company.

Quick Summary

  • Collaborative leadership focuses on involving teams in making decisions, solving problems, and brainstorming new ideas.
  • It leads to better decision-making, more engagement, and improved productivity in the workplace.
  • Leaders can apply collaborative leadership in the workplace by maintaining open communication, promoting open-mindedness, and celebrating all victories, both big and small
  • The best way to measure the impact of collaborative leadership is through workplace analytics tools like those offered by OfficeRnD Hybrid.

What Is Collaborative Leadership?

Collaborative leadership is a management practice where leaders work together with their team members and other departments to make decisions and keep their organization thriving. This approach promotes cooperation and teamwork across the office and can take many forms, from helping a coworker to an enterprise-wide system for exchanging information, exploring possibilities, and increasing productivity.

With more millennials and Gen Z making their mark in the workplace, traditional top-down management practice is rapidly losing its efficacy.

Instead, the collaborative leadership style has emerged as a powerful alternative. It is a dynamic style of leadership that emphasizes collaboration in the workplace.

Collaborative leaders value diverse perspectives and cultivate a culture of teamwork, open communication, and active participation.

This approach leads to a work environment where teams freely share ideas, knowledge, and resources to achieve collective goals.

Why Is Collaborative Leadership Important?

Collective leadership has many benefits. Let’s take a look at three advantages of implementing it in your business.

Better Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

We’ve all heard the saying, “Two heads are better than one.” Collaborative leadership is the embodiment of it.the importance of collaborative leadership

Teams that welcome diverse perspectives, expertise, and experiences generate more innovative and effective solutions.

And those solutions lead to higher revenue growth with less friction: According to data compiled by Great Places to Work, companies in the top quartile show 11.1% higher earnings.

The collective intelligence of a team empowers informed decision-making that drives success and helps overcome challenges.

Boosted Engagement and Productivity at Work

Collaborative leadership creates a lasting culture where everyone feels valued and has a sense of ownership in the business’s success.

When employees feel that their contributions matter, they become more motivated, leading to an improved workplace experience — a win-win result that boosts long-term engagement and productivity.

More Creativity and Innovation

Creativity is paramount in the workplace because it opens up new possibilities and positive change.

colleagues working on a project

Collaborative leaders build a creative environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and taking risks. This encourages breakthroughs in product development, process improvement, and other areas of the business that rely on innovation.

In fact, the Institute for Collaborative Working found that collaboration improves product development by 30% and product quality by 34%.

4 Trends Driving Collaborative Leadership in Companies

Several key trends are reshaping the modern workplace and pushing the need for more collaborative approaches to leadership. We’ll discuss four of them in this section.

Rise of Hybrid Work Models

As COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of the hybrid work model, a mix of in-office and remote working companies have realized the importance of collaboration.

Leaders are now facing the challenge of delegating tasks and engaging team members who are not physically present. As a result, reliance on collaborative leadership styles that prioritize teamwork, open communication, and active participation is growing. That’s why for every leader, it’s important to become a collaborative communicator.

an example of a hybrid work model

Accenture’s report on the future of work research reveals that 83% of global workers prefer the hybrid work model. This statistic underscores the increasing significance of collaborative leadership in the modern workplace.

With some employees on-site, while others work remotely, teams need to rely on a collaborative style of communication to solve problems — and leadership can set the tone for this culture.

Increased Reliance on Technology

Technology has revolutionized the way we work, and our increased reliance on it has emphasized the need for collaborative leadership in the global workforce.

A Dimensional Research survey shows that 83% of workers depend on technology to collaborate. Indeed, collaborative digital tools, like project management software, hybrid work software, and video conferencing, are becoming essential for day-to-day operations.

With the advancement of technology, remote and hybrid companies can now communicate and collaborate in real-time, bridging geographical and time zone barriers.

Learn more about collaboration technologies.

Focus on Inclusivity and Diversity

Inclusivity and diversity have become a cornerstone in the contemporary workplace. A CNBC survey reveals that 80% of workers want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion.

two women coworking

As the demand for greater representation grows, organizations are proactively building more diverse teams. Collaborative leadership plays a vital role in this endeavor, as it prioritizes creating an environment where every voice is heard and everyone feels included.

Belongingness has a profound impact on the workplace. In fact, a recent Qualtrics report found that workplace belonging leads to a 56% increase in job performance. Collaborative leaders foster a sense of belonging to nurture a more engaged and high-functioning team.

Increased Data-Driven Decision-Making

According to a 2022 Voice of the Enterprise survey, over 25% of businesses make all their business decisions based on data, while 44% base most of their decisions on data.

benefits of data-driven decisions in business

The increase in data-driven decision-making highlights transparency, in which everyone has access to the same information and can make informed decisions together.

This trend aligns closely with the collaborative leadership style, which also values transparency and equal access to information. Relying on data helps collaborative leaders empower their teams to make informed decisions together.

This creates a sense of fairness and openness in which team members can contribute their insights and perspectives based on the shared data. It strengthens collaboration and promotes a collective decision-making process, leading to more effective and inclusive outcomes.

7 Tips for Applying Collaborative Leadership in a Hybrid Work Setting

Navigating the ins and outs of hybrid work can be challenging, but a successful collaborative leader can inspire teamwork and success.

Follow the seven tips below to transform your hybrid office into a thriving hub of collaboration and productivity.

Prioritize Clarity and Purpose

As a manager, it’s your job to help your employees understand their roles and how their work fits into the company’s mission. Providing clear guidance and aligning individual goals with organizational objectives can inspire a sense of purpose and direction.

A great way to introduce clarity and purpose in a hybrid work setting is to set key performance indicators (KPIs) upfront. That way, your employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how their work contributes to the company’s success.

a business graph

Additionally, always communicate company updates to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working toward common objectives. A great way to ensure clear communication is to use hybrid workplace experience apps.

These apps enable you to effectively communicate company policies, events, and benefits with centralized web portals, chat integration, and virtual and hybrid meetings. Digital tools help create a positive work community where overall success is more important than individual success.

Keep Communication Open

How can you maintain an open-door policy in a hybrid work setting when some employees are working remotely? The answer is open communication.

Open communication builds trust, inspires collaboration, and keeps team members connected, even when they are working from different locations.

Messaging and digital collaboration tools can help your team communicate and work together easily. With real-time conversations, file sharing, meeting room bookings, and project collaboration software, these tools act as a bridge between remote and in-person workers.

officernd hybrid

Collaboration tools promote open dialogue and create a sense of unity and teamwork within your hybrid work environment. With them, you can ensure that every team member — whether in-office or remote — has a voice, feels included, and stays informed.

For example, OfficeRnD Hybrid has a set of collaboration-boosting features that entice employees to come to the office for the moments that matter. In-person collaboration boosts productivity, increases team morale, and promotes healthy company culture.

Empower Your People

Empowering your people not only benefits their individual growth but also strengthens collaborative leadership within your team. When you give your employees autonomy and trust, they’ll become empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents.

Less micromanagement and increased focus on open-mindedness help encourage active participation and create a space for collaboration and shared decision-making. This inclusive approach (as opposed to transactional leadership) promotes teamwork, mutual respect, and collective success.

Moreover, you can inspire innovation by leaving room for experimentation, fueling the collaborative spirit within your team.

Emphasize Flexibility and Adaptability

Openness to change is important in any workplace, especially in today’s day and age. Instead of giving your team ironclad rules to follow, equip them with the necessary tools, training, and knowledge to confidently navigate emerging technologies and conquer challenges.

OfficeRnD Hybrid’s workplace analytics are a valuable ally in this journey, as they can help you track changes in the workplace and tailor your strategies accordingly.

officernd hybrid dashboard

These analytics provide insights into how your teams work and allow you to understand how your hybrid work policies are being adopted. This means you can adjust, improve, and align them with the cultures of your organization and the teams within it. Plus, it can help you optimize your footprint and reduce costs.

Encourage Collaboration

Collaboration is the foundation of a high-functioning team in a hybrid workplace. It’s about creating a positive work culture where everyone feels comfortable with not only working together but also disagreeing with — and giving constructive feedback to — each other.

To make collaboration happen, you can schedule team bonding activities and meetings, either virtual or in-person. These events are a chance for you to get to know your hybrid team and celebrate victories and important milestones with them.

zoom call

OfficeRnD Hybrid’s hybrid work scheduler can simplify coordinating availability among your hybrid teams. You’ll be able to see everyone’s schedules, plan your week ahead, and find the best days to host events or have your hybrid employees come into the office.

Allowing collaboration to become a part of your team’s DNA will boost teamwork, morale, and productivity in the workplace.

Use Hybrid Work Software

Think of hybrid work software as the ultimate toolbox, equipped with everything you need to get your hybrid team to peak functionality. It facilitates collaboration, improves communication, and boosts productivity at work.

With hybrid work software like OfficeRnD Hybrid, you get a central place where your team can easily access important information, schedule meetings, and share updates no matter where they are.

Make the most of OfficeRnD Hybrid’s collaborative scheduling feature by inviting your team to join discussions, meetings, and events with custom invites. Plus, you can check your work friends’ schedules for smoother coordination and cooperation.

Celebrate Big and Small Victories

Lastly, celebrating achievements, both big and small, is essential for boosting team morale.

Acknowledge your team’s effort and dedication by organizing special team lunches or happy hours where everyone can come together to relax and celebrate their accomplishments.

You can also implement incentives or rewards programs to recognize contributions made by individuals or leadership teams. These initiatives create a culture of recognition that motivates your team to continuously strive for excellence.

Use OfficeRnD Hybrid to Boost Collaboration at Work

When it comes to practicing collaborative leadership in a hybrid workplace, using digital collaboration tools makes all the difference.

OfficeRnD Hybrid is designed for the hybrid office, empowering teams to collaborate seamlessly regardless of their location or work setup. Enhance collaboration at work with OfficeRnD Hybrid’s intuitive features, such as its workplace analytics, collaborative scheduling, and hybrid work scheduler.

Moreover, OfficeRnD Hybrid can integrate with Microsoft tech stack, Google Workspace, and other apps. Your team will gain a centralized hub that includes all your digital collaboration tools and resources.

Get started for free with OfficeRnD Hybrid and experience a new era of collaboration in your workplace.


What Is an Example of Collaborative Leadership?

An example of a collaborative leadership approach is a technology company where the CEO understands the importance of involving employees in decision-making processes.

Instead of making unilateral decisions, the CEO encourages open dialogue and solicits input from team members at all levels. Decisions are made collectively after considering various viewpoints.

Collaborative efforts not only strengthen team cohesion but also lead to innovative solutions and better outcomes. The CEO establishes a sense of shared ownership and accountability, ultimately driving business success.

What Are the Characteristics of a Collaborative Leader?

While there are many qualities a collaborative leader can have, here’s OfficeRnD’s list of 10 characteristics that define a good collaborative leader:

  1. Open-mindedness
  2. Effective communication
  3. Trustworthiness
  4. Empathy
  5. Flexibility
  6. Conflict resolution (mastering the collaborating conflict style is crucial)
  7. Team empowerment
  8. Relationship building
  9. Shared vision
  10. Continuous learning

What Organizations Use Collaborative Leadership?

Salesforce, known for its customer relationship management software, actively promotes trust and transparency to empower employees to work together and exchange ideas.

General Electric (GE) values input from all levels of the organization. Collaborative leaders at GE encourage cross-functional collaboration and provide collaboration platforms for employees to thrive.

Dewhirst, a leader in fashion manufacturing, uses technology to facilitate communication and collaboration in the workplace. Both employees and management rely on OfficeRnD to better coordinate schedules, communicate, and collaborate.

Studying these organizations and their collaborative leadership skills can help you gain insights into how to effectively implement collaborative leadership in the workplace.

What Are the 4 Basic Principles of Collaborative Management?

As described beautifully in the Four Network Principles of Collaboration Success by the University of Berkeley, a collaborative leader should:

  1. Focus on the mission before the organization
  2. Manage through trust, not control
  3. Promote others, not themself
  4. Build constellations, not stars

These principles emphasize prioritizing mission, trusting management, promoting others’ growth, and team success. By adhering to them, organizations can cultivate a collaborative environment that leads to greater efficiency, innovation, and overall success.

Why is Being Collaborative Important in Leadership?

Collaborative leadership is important because it promotes open communication, encourages motivation, treats all team members with respect, and establishes a vision for the team. Through collaboration, team members can use their experiences and skills to contribute to the success of a project, which often leads to increased productivity.

What are the Strengths of Collaborative Leadership?

The strengths of collaborative leadership include increased productivity, better decision-making, improved problem-solving, increased employee engagement and job satisfaction, and a more positive work environment. Collaborative leaders encourage open communication and value diverse perspectives, which can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving.

Is Collaborative Leadership a Skill?

Yes, collaborative leadership is a skill that can be developed and improved over time. Collaborative leaders need to have strong communication skills, the ability to build trust, and the ability to motivate and engage team members.

What is Collaborative Leadership Theory?

Collaborative leadership theory is a management practice in which members of a leadership team work together across sectors to make decisions and keep their organization thriving. This theory emphasizes the importance of collaboration and cooperation among team members, as well as the importance of building relationships and trust.

Who Created the Collaborative Leadership Style?

There is no single person who can be credited with creating the collaborative leadership style. The concept of collaborative leadership has evolved over time in response to changing business environments and organizational needs.

However, as per Wikipedia, the person who popularized this practice and first started talking about it is Hank Rubin – author and founder of the Institute for Collaborative Leadership.

What is Traditional vs Collaborative Leaders?

Traditional leaders are those who adhere to a hierarchical, top-down management style where one individual is primarily responsible for carrying out administrative and directorial tasks.

This management approach typically offers authority based on experience and longevity. Traditional leaders approach power as a singular authority, retain ownership of information and deliver approved solutions.

They tend to be more individualistic and focused on getting things done.

On the other hand, collaborative leaders are those who promote open communication, encourage motivation, treat all team members with respect, and establish a vision for the team.

Collaborative leaders delegate tasks based on team members’ skills and experiences and value diverse perspectives.

Miro Miroslavov
CEO and Co-founder of OfficeRnD
Miro Miroslavov is a software engineer turned into a tech entrepreneur. In 2015 he co-founded OfficeRnD - a leading flex space and hybrid work management platform. As a CEO at OfficeRnD, he grew the company from inception to a leading software vendor that serves thousands of customers worldwide. He is a big fan of flexible working and is on a mission to "Making Flexible Working the Way of Working".