Collaborative Leadership vs the Autocratic “My way or the highway.”

Businesses, who have a balance of genders within the leadership team or if there is a strong collaborative leadership style, will enjoy performance improvement and an increase in profitability. Those leaders who embrace a collaborative leadership style having rejected the autocratic leadership approach of yesteryear see leaders and employees genuinely focused on solving problems together. 

“As a potential source of employee talent, women represent 45.6% of the Australian labour market. Attracting, developing and retaining women as employees is essential to building the pipeline of female leadership talent,” according to research by the company Zenger Folkman. Further, the female economy is worth about $20 trillion worldwide and projected to reach $28 trillion by 2014. Interestingly but unsurprisingly, 85% of buying decisions for the home are influenced by women.

These are interesting findings and for businesses it represents an incredible opportunity to refocus your HR recruiting strategy, your leadership decisions and your sales and marketing strategies towards women as this is a trend gathering strong momentum.

According to the American Psychological Association, “a woman’s leadership style is more like mentoring and coaching, while a man’s style is centered on command and control. As a result, women are more likely to be transformational leaders, helping employees develop their skills and talents, motivating them, and coaching to be more creative.”

Here is a great definition of transformational leadership. 

A transformational leader goes beyond managing day-to-day operations of a transactional leader and crafts strategies for taking his/her company, department or work team to the next level of performance and success. Transformational leadership styles focus on team-building, motivation and collaboration with employees at different levels of an organisation to accomplish change for the better. Transformational leaders set goals and incentives to push their subordinates to higher performance levels, while providing opportunities for personal and professional growth for each employee."

Zenger Folkman found that women lead men in the 16 competencies of outstanding leadership, identified by the company. “The bias of most people is that females would be better at nurturing competencies such as developing others and relationship building. While this is true the competencies with the largest differences between males and females were taking initiative, practicing self development, integrity/honesty, and driving for results.” Those competencies are:

Competency Men % Women %
Takes Initiative 48 56
Practices Self-Development 48 55
Displays High Integrity and Honesty 48 55
Drives for Results 48 54
Develops Others 48 54
Inspires and Motivates Others 49 54
Builds Relationships 49 54
Collaboration and Teamwork 49 53
Establishes Stretch Goals 49 53
Champions Change 49 53
Solves Problems and Analyses Issues 50 52
Communicates Powerfully and Prolifically 50 52
Connects the Group to the Outside World 50 51
Innovates 50 51
Technical or Professional Expertise 50 51
Develops Strategic Perspective 51 49

What does this all mean to the average business?  As recent a participant in one of our leadership training programs said, “because history has seen a higher proportion of men in leadership positions we are programed to think the male style of ‘command and control’ is the ideal method of leading” whereas the more coaching transformational style of leading preferred by women could be more effective in the long run.

Collaborative leadership sees leaders and employees partner, with no threats of power or need to use hierarchy to influence decisions. Collaborative leaders are willing to listen and be influenced, and employees, in turn, are more likely to contribute and feel a sense of ownership.”

Zenger and Stinnett, Coaching as a Management Style,

About Ingrid Aitken Gattari, Achievers Group

Ingrid Aitken Gattari is the wife of Tony Gattari. She is executive director at Achievers Group. Ingrid has a wealth of experience across a number of industries and has worked in the fields of journalism, public relations, counselling and administration. Ingrid is highly qualified and has a degree in communication (journalism), a diploma in public relations and community services. Ingrid specialises as a trainer, facilitator and coach is the areas of team work, personal development and conflict resolution.

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