What are the characteristics of a collaborative leader?

In this article, we shall look at the various characteristics of a collaborative leader. We shall also be explaining what collaborative leadership is and why it is important in the workplace. In addition, we will also be looking at the different areas in which collaborative leadership can be applied for the advantages it brings.

What are the characteristics of a collaborative leader?

The various characteristics of a collaborative leader are:

  • They practice open and effective communication
  • They align innovative ideas together
  • They know how to motivate their teams
  • They do not micromanage
  • They encourage team members to take risks
  • They possess high emotional intelligence
  • They use conflicts constructively

More leaders are taking up collaborative leadership as their style and strategy for guiding teams. However, this is not always easy as some important traits are required of a collaborative leader. Through collaborative leadership, collaboration and productivity can be greatly improved in the organization. The characteristics of a collaborative leader are explained as follows:

They practice open and effective communication

When leaders practice open and effective communication with their teams, they can give instructions in a clearer and concise manner. They can also give feedback and guide their teams in a smoother way because of effective communication. Collaborative leaders practice great communication in all its forms, be it oral, non-verbal and even written.

They align innovative ideas together

Collaborative leaders not only bring people together, but they also bring ideas and thoughts together. They connect those with great ideas together and also give them access to the right resources and tools which can bring those ideas to life. In this manner, collaborative leaders make way for innovative products and designs in the organization.

They know how to motivate their teams

Different team members work through different styles. They also are motivated and inspired by various factors. Collaborative leaders understand how to exactly motivate their employees and get the best work out of them. Since they are motivated in the right manner, employees show more commitment to their tasks and fulfill them responsibly.

They do not micromanage

It is easy for leaders to fall into a pattern of micromanaging their teams. This, however, almost always has negative effects, not just for the teams but for the leaders themselves and the entire organization. However, collaborative leaders do not micromanage and overly control their teams. Instead, they trust them to effectively complete tasks and manage their work.

They encourage team members to take risks

Team members are also encouraged to take risks by collaborative leaders. Without risk taking, the organization cannot grow. Taking risks and facing challenges can also greatly boost personal development and growth in team members. Collaborative leaders encourage their team members to take risks, while also providing the right resources and autonomy required for it.

They possess high emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence can help leaders understand their team members better and also connect with them on a deeper level. When leaders show emotional intelligence, they understand and respect diversity better. Thus, the diversity of the team can be used as a valuable asset and not seen as a liability.

They use conflicts constructively

Conflicts will arise when people work together, no matter how tightly they are knit. Collaborative leaders use these conflicts to boost productivity and efficiency in the team. Through conflicts, teams can generate more ideas and also arrive at solutions for problems in a faster and smoother manner.

The other characteristics that make up a collaborative leader are explained in this section:

They are transparent with information

Collaborative leaders do not withhold information and access to information. They are transparent and open with their team members. When leaders are transparent, the team members are able to trust them better and work with higher commitment to the goal. Leaders showing transparency is also a sign of a flatter organization.

They have great networking abilities

Collaborative leaders have the ability to network and interact with almost anybody. Through these skills, they communicate and collaborate with professionals in various levels and functionalities of the organization. They also network with resourceful persons outside the organization, bringing more assets and tools for the team to use.

They make better decisions

Decisions can be made by either one person or a group of individuals in the organization. When they are made by a team of well-meaning and rightly informed individuals, the decision holds more water. Collaborative leaders use the power of teams to take inputs from divers individuals and then arrive at a conclusion.

They coach teams, not just manage them

Collaborative leaders are highly focused on accomplishing the goal and also actively participate in the development of their team members. They coach them into using their strengths and also point out areas in which they need to improve. Thus, collaborative leaders ensure the continuous growth of the team members.

They are highly passionate about their work

Collaborative leaders are also greatly passionate about their work. They genuinely enjoy and display high levels of optimism and enthusiasm in their job. This is demonstrated in both enjoyable as well as unpleasant tasks. Collaborative leaders are ready to get their hands dirty and inspire and motivate others to do the same.

They demonstrate great work ethic

Great work ethic is when principles and standards are followed in every task that the job demands. Collaborative leaders show great work ethic and demonstrate it daily. This means, they show up on time, complete their tasks with the right quality and also show accountability for the mistakes they might have made.

They do not mind sharing the spotlight

Collaborative leaders share the credit with others in the team and also celebrate successes as a group. For them, the focus is all about the group and not the individual. Since they are ready to let go of their egos and share the credits, they demonstrate the importance of teamwork and collaboration to the rest of the organization.

What is collaborative leadership?

Collaborative leadership occurs when a leader shares their control of a group and uses diversity as an asset for the performance of the group. Collaborative leaders are the key to global and multinational organizations. This is because they are focused on bringing everyone together and sharing power as a unit.

Importance of collaborative leadership in the workplace

Collaborative leadership is gaining importance as it encourages more generation of ideas and multiple perspectives. It also breaks down silos in the organization and makes teams highly diverse. Through collaborative leadership, businesses can create better strategies to launch innovative products and services.

Where can collaborative leadership be applied?

The different areas that collaborative leadership can be effectively applied are:

  • It can be useful in social movements that are targeting big issues such as climate change, gender inequality, gender discrimination, etc.
  • Collaborative leadership can be highly beneficial in forming governments
  • It is important for improving the education process
  • Collaborative leadership can be highly advantageous for the health sector
  • It can used in matters of civic nature to make communities and localities better
  • It can also be useful for global supply chains which rely on effective and efficient communication and collaboration


In this article, we have looked at the various characteristics of a collaborative leader. We have also explained what collaborative leadership is and why it is important in the workplace. Lastly, we have mentioned the different areas in which collaborative leadership can be applied.

Frequently asked questions: (What are the characteristics of a collaborative leader?)

What are the six collaborative behaviors?

The six most important collaborative behaviors are:

The ability to look at the bigger picture

In order to collaborate efficiently together, team members need to not only focus on the short-term goals but also the long-term ones. When team members focus on the bigger picture and the meaningful impacts of their projects, they work closer together and show more commitment to achieving the shared purpose.

Adaptability and flexibility

Adaptability and flexibility is highly necessary for collaboration. This is because organizations can face changes and challenges at almost any time. Being adaptable allows teams to counter challenges and adjust to new trends in the market. Thus, it builds resilience and strength in the employees, while giving the organization new ideas to work with.

Critical thinking and analyzing

Critical thinking is essential for problem-solving as well as decision-making. When team members can critically think and deeply analyze issues, they are able to come up with better solutions for problems. They can also make more meaningful decisions and resolve conflicts in an effective manner.

Open and effective communication

Many conflicts arise due to ineffective communication practices between team members. The communication has to be open for the team members to trust each other. It also has to be effective in delivering messages and instructions in order to avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings in the team.

An open-minded attitude

Open-mindedness is a key skill that team members need to use. When they are open-minded, the team is more open to new and unconventional ideas. Due to this, team members will give their opinions and ideas. Open-mindedness also helps in the understanding and respecting diversity of cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs and languages in the team.

Why are collaborative skills important?

Collaborative skills are considered important because of the following reasons:

  • Through these skills there is better productivity and work efficiency in the team
  • There is open and honest communication between the team members
  • They help teams work with a more meaningful purpose
  • They encourage discussions that can bring up new ideas and opinions

What actions can a leader take to encourage collaboration?

Leaders can take the following strategies to encourage collaboration in the organization:

  • They can use the individual strengths of the team members. They can also emphasize on the collective strength or skill set of the team and increase focus on the group rather than the individual team member.
  • They can open up conversations with team members and get to know them better. They can also create opportunities for feedback and even criticism. Personal conversations are a great way to understand team members and build trust in the team.
  • They can throw in a topic or issue for the team members to brainstorm and critically analyze. In brainstorming together, the team members automatically collaborate and can even generate ideas for problem-solving or to create new products for the organization.
  • They can lead by example, which might be the best way to encourage collaboration in the organization. When leaders strongly advocate collaboration, team members are inspired to follow and model their leader’s behavior.

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