What are the disadvantages of collaborative leadership? (+5 strategies)

This article will examine the various disadvantages of collaborative leadership. We shall also be discussing the importance of collaborative leadership and various strategies to improve the implementation of collaborative leadership in the organization. This leadership style is becoming highly popular as it leads to better outcomes for both employees and the management.

What are the disadvantages of collaborative leadership?

The different disadvantages of collaborative leadership are:

Collaborative leadership can coerce collaboration

Collaborative leadership encourages team members to interact with others and work closely together. However, many team members may feel coerced or forced to collaborate even though they are not willing to. This might reduce the effectiveness of the collaboration process and lead to a decrease in individual productivity and work efficiency.


Physical proximity issues

The decrease in need for physical proximity to each other can create an obstacle for collaboration as well as collaborative leadership. Since teams are working remotely from various geographical locations, there is more work efficiently getting done through online collaboration tools. At the same time, there is also a reduction in the building of relationships.

The process can be expensive

Collaborative leadership can be too costly for some organizations to implement. This is because the process requires a great investment of time and energy. It also might require the organization to spend money for training, resources and also installing the right collaborative tool. Since the cost can be too high, many organizations are discouraged from this leadership style.

False leaders can arise

Collaborative leadership requires the leader to actively work with the team and also gather valuable inputs and suggestions from others. Since the leader works closely with the team members, other false leaders may arise and try to influence the group. Because of this, there might be conflicts and tussles in the group.

Creative thinking might go stale

Creative thinking can lead to the creation of innovative products and services in the organization. However, this cannot arise when the team members are unanimous on every front. There needs to be healthy conflicts and discussions for creativity to grow. This can be discouraged with collaborative leadership.

It may lead to a longer decision-making process

Collaborative leadership requires the team members to closely discuss and chew over multiple issues before arriving at any conclusion. In this manner, the decision making process itself may take a lot longer. This may not be feasible or applicable for situations which need decisions to be taken quickly.

Everyone might not get a chance to participate

Since collaborative leadership encourages the active participation and engagement of everyone in the team, this sometimes can lead to some team members dominating the group. This especially refers to extroverts or highly social team members. However, this can become a problem for introverted team members who might not get a chance to participate.

Responsibility might not be taken for mistakes

Collaborative leadership allows the team to work as a single unit and face challenges together. This can be despite a sole individual committing a mistake and leading to problems for the entire team. This can further lead to deep rooted resentments and creates high probabilities for conflicts in the future.

Importance of collaborative leadership

Collaborative leadership is highly important for any organization for the following reasons:

  • Employees or team members are given opportunities to speak up and give their opinions
  • They are also motivated to give honest feedback
  • Team members show high engagement and participation in the work process
  • It promotes the use of diversity as a strong asset to the organization
  • It can lead to innovative products and designs for the organization
  • The organization is stronger and shows more potential for growth and expansion

Strategies to improve collaborative leadership

To improve the implementation of collaborative leadership in the organization, the following strategies can be used:

Learning to take control

While collaborative leadership means sharing responsibilities and workloads between team members, leaders also need to know when they should be taking the final call. This is particularly related to making tough decisions. The team should know that they are free to give inputs and suggestions, but also be aware of who gets the final say in the conversation.

Improving self-awareness

While leaders may try to encourage their team members to learn and develop, they should also take time to improve their own self-awareness. Through high levels of self-awareness a leader can understand their strengths and also their weaknesses for which they might need support and guidance.

Reminding the team to collaborate

Collaboration does not occur because of a single meeting or the implementation of a new organizational policy. Teams need to be reminded regularly to collaborate in every step of the work process. They also need to be convinced about the benefits of collaboration and how it can serve them in the very task they are doing.

Creating different ways to work together

For collaboration to happen effectively, the leaders and managers should create different ways for the team members to collaborate with each other. This can be physically working on a task together, interacting during breaks, participating in team-building activities and using various digital collaboration tools.

Open up communication in the team

Opening up lines of communication in the team can also help in structuring the collaboration process in the right manner. When team members openly communicate with each other, there are lesser chances of misunderstandings and conflicts happening. The team also becomes stronger and resilient through open communication.

Use the right collaboration tools

Collaboration requires the right tools for it to be potent in the organization. Many organizations lean on digital collaboration tools to help the team members work together. Collaboration tools can not only help in working together, but also can improve the communication between team members and aid them in sharing files and documents with one another.


This article has examined the various disadvantages of collaborative leadership. We have also discussed the importance of collaborative leadership and various strategies to improve the implementation of collaborative leadership in the organization.

Frequently asked questions: (What are the disadvantages of collaborative leadership?)

What are the barriers to collaboration?

Collaboration can face many barriers in a team or an organization. Some of the most common barriers are:

No time for collaboration

If the employees in the organization have tightly packed schedules that allow absolutely no time for collaboration, the practices may dwindle over time until it completely disappears from the organizational policies. This can also happen when leaders and managers are not careful enough to align collaboration with the existing work processes in the teams.

Unsuitable team members

If the right team members are not selected for the job, the collaboration will not be effective. Collaboration requires individuals who are great team players, love to work in groups, are supportive and helpful for others and also ready to share information and resources. If these members are not present, this can become a barrier for collaboration.

Remote teams

Remote working grants many advantages like flexibility, safety and better work-life balances for employees. However, remote working itself can become a barrier for collaboration in an organization. When team members are not physically close to each other, they may reduce their interactions with each other, thus diluting relationships.

Organizational culture issues

Some organizational cultures do not support collaboration. Implementing collaboration in these organizations can also lead to a failure of the process itself. Examples of these organizational cultures are fear-based and status-based cultures. These organizations use too many hierarchical levels with strong barriers between them that can prevent collaboration from happening.

Top leaders may face collab overloads

Collaboration encourages inter-dependency in the team. This is so that help and support can be provided easily and also promotes learning and training in the team. For this, top leaders who are supportive in nature are usually targeted by their subordinates, leading to a collaboration overload for them. This might also lead to burnouts in employees.

What is the most challenging part of working in a team?

The most challenging part of working in a team is the high chances of conflicts occurring in the team. This can lead to frustration and stress among the team members and also may cause disruptions in the work process leading to delays of deadlines. However, if rightly managed, conflicts can also be constructive for the team. Some other common challenges are:

Less participation from the team members

Collaboration requires high engagement and participation from the team members for it to be effective. However, there are chances that all team members are not as engaging as they should be. When there are low levels of participation from the team members, the team might not function as well as it should be.

Information is not open

Team members should feel there is transparency of information being shared. If they feel something is being hidden, they may lose their trust in the management or even in their other team members. Still, not everyone who is collaborating will be transparent and open with their information and data, thus creating barriers for the process.

Not focusing on the big picture

Team members should be highly focused on the big picture and the long-term goals of the organization if they need to collaborate closely together. When the individuals are not committed to the big picture, they might not collaborate that intensely as they would feel they are working for a short-term objective.

Presence of silos in the organization

Silos in the organization can lead to information and other resources being hoarded. It can also prevent cross-functional collaboration which is essential for the growth and development of the organization. But, when silos are broken down, it can create a vast number of resources for the organization to use.

No coordination in the team

The team members should be on the same page with each other at all times. This can only happen when there is transparency of information and coordination in the team. It also requires the team members to have access to the proper collaboration tools for better task management and task coordination.

What are the common team problems?

The common team problems are:

  • Large amounts of time can go into discussing, decision-making and problem-solving
  • Some personality styles can be conflicting with each other and lead to barriers in the collaboration process
  • All the team members might not show the same commitment to the achievement of the goal
  • Some team members might be too focused on their own goals and personal growth
  • There are chances of groupthink happening and thus creativity and innovation may diminish in the team

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