Scott Goldner, Director of Individual at The DO School, reflects on how over the past 25 years in leadership and training he’s learned that the key ingredient of effective leadership is culture – particularly a culture of quality collaboration and ongoing learning.
Reflecting on my experiences working with global and local leaders across sectors and functions, it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same… the more they change again.
The best organizations have a culture of quality collaboration and ongoing learning and development that is led, modelled and curated by the top leaders. With over 25 years’ experience being both a leader and in leadership training, I have been developing my own leadership skills in the context of this culture and supporting others to do so for some time. Building and maintaining such a culture is not easy, but it is certainly not new.
A changing landscape for collaboration
However, what is new and what I find really exciting are the developments in our understanding of what enables quality collaboration and in the increasing range of tools available for collaboration (both on and offline). Parallel to this improvement in our capabilities for quality collaboration across functions, countries, and roles is the shifting nature of peoples’ development and learning needs and interests, along with an increase in the available opportunities for learning. I think that the leaders who can connect these developments and shifts effectively will have the most quality collaboration and innovation in their organizations.
What we learn as part of our own growth and maturity as individuals, we see smart organizations and institutions learning also – that we should not try to replicate someone else, but rather try to become our best, most authentic true selves. What I see some of our partners doing (especially large, legacy corporations) is identifying the aspects of their history and identity to hold on to as they seek to increase innovation. Not every company can do what Google does or has the same culture that the newest start-up has – and this is fine! However, all companies need to be more innovative in order to survive and thrive and the best way to enable innovation in a way that feels authentic is through having a culture of quality collaboration. You want to embrace disruption, but you do not need to disrupt what is core and essential to your DNA.
In my experience, effective collaboration can be seen, felt, and measured:
Developing new mindsets
According to the World Economic Forum, at least 54% of employees will need to re-skill or up-skill to meet future demands. Additionally, what we hear from our partners is that their people will need not only new skills, but new mindsets – or attitudes and ways of thinking. The good news is that new skills and mindsets can be learned and developed. In our view, this is done in four steps:
Why waste time proving over and over how great you are when you could be getting better?
Quality leadership attributes
Effective and agile leadership is able to listen through all the noise and connect to the gold out there and within their own companies to develop an ecosystem for development and learning that enables staff to plug into development opportunities, new ideas, and expertise inside and outside the organization. More concretely, they enable the following:
This ecosystem helps lead to a vibrant culture of proactive learning and sharing that enables people to more easily embrace change and transformation and to better collaborate and innovate at all levels. I am thrilled that at The DO School, I have the opportunity to work with partners to develop learning ecosystems that will help them to build a culture of quality collaboration and ongoing learning and development and become not only truly innovative companies, but places where people (not robots) cannot wait to come to work.
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