Collaborative leadership approach in projects

A fairy tale behind construction project management?

"Where the superiority mentality emerges, that's where the conflicts begin; where the conflicts begin, productivity falls" - This is the moral of the story "The Lion and the Three Bulls", which I watched with my baby. True to the motto: "United we stand, divided we fall". And that's exactly the mindset we need in our construction projects.
Silhouettes of five people.
We need to work together, so it is time to establish the collaborative leadership style. The collaborative leadership style can be applied not only in project management, but in all areas. It depends on you how and in which context you apply it. Both collaboration and coordination are needed for better project implementation. We need to move from a straightforward reporting system to a more collaborative and interactive way of working. The benefits of both traditional and collaborative leadership approaches to project management are well known. A project manager must always think of both internal and external organisational boundaries and parameters in project management. Collaborative leadership is one of the skills required to achieve efficient and effective results. Conflicts between project stakeholders are resolved at an early stage to ensure the well-being of the project and project implementation. Collaboration means that two or more teams work together to achieve a common goal.
The advantages of the collaborative management style are obvious, and yet a traditional management style still prevails in most construction companies, where there is only a monopoly and authority system with many ambiguities. In the absence of a good collaborative environment, it is often not possible to execute a project well from scratch. The time has come to rethink the construction industry through a collaborative way of working. Collaborative leadership aims to get managers and other project stakeholders out of their cubicles and working together to achieve project goals. Collaborative leadership is the future of the organisation.
Do you know who our assets, our most important, outstanding resources are? It is our team! Organisations need to rethink to introduce collaborative leadership within the project. As long as we leave leadership to a single person in charge, teamwork is just an empty word. In the traditional leadership style, the problem-solving skills are on the shoulders of one individual because there is no teamwork. In the cooperative leadership style, on the other hand, we work as a team and always pursue a common goal. Furthermore, the empowerment of the team plays an important role, because only an empowered and motivated team can work towards the goal.

Authority and power

Due to the complex hierarchy and authority problems in the traditional leadership concept, innovation and creativity are one of the most difficult tasks. To create an innovative environment, it is not only important to have efficient and effective communication between stakeholders, but the company should also develop a collaborative leadership approach. This is because thanks to the collaborative leadership approach, team members can have open and transparent discussions among themselves.

Unity is our strength

Unity is our strength: this is not just an empty statement. For any company, an innovative team with a lot of creativity can be a real asset to its business growth. But in fact, this is often a big milestone until a well-cohesive way of working of leadership is established. Forget silo thinking and work as a team with lots of innovation and creativity.
Teamwork is a big word. Have you ever thought about the cohesion and way of working in a collaborative leadership approach? I would say that this collaboration and this kind of leadership is very modern, but let me tell you a story from my childhood. When I was young and far from being a project manager, I once asked my grandmother, "How can all these ants walk in a disciplined line with a lump of sugar over their heads?" "They are storing their supplies for the monsoon season. They have to work as a team." Today I remember her words. We as project managers can do the same for our projects: We need to work as a team to achieve our goals. In my opinion, it is more important to accompany practice than to learn from theory.

How to make the best use of minimal resources.

Resource management and proper resource allocation play an important role in construction projects. Both the project manager and the project team plan the allocation once the scope of work is determined. One of the most important skills of the project team is to make the best use of resources with minimum availability. Similar to a camel that stores water in its humps. A camel can go a long time without water, but as soon as it needs water, it fetches it from its humps. Transferred to the project, this means that simple utilisation techniques should be chosen when resources become scarce.

Issue resolution

We know that identifying and solving problems will be a big task if not all team members work together for a common goal. Only where there is mutual trust and respect will it be possible to succeed. Through joint brainstorming and discussions, the team can defuse the problems that have occurred. With detailed planning and continuous iteration, we can solve the problem in a collaborative approach.

Transparency and work delegation

We need to abolish the traditional hierarchical leadership system, the concept of "senior" and "junior" and the top-down way of thinking and move to a cooperative way of thinking. We need to delegate and manage work through collaborative leadership styles. Of course, we know that the transition from traditional leadership to collaborative leadership is a big challenge. But it is through the transition from traditional to collaborative leadership that the success of any organisation truly becomes possible. Through collaborative leadership, transparency, trust and delegation of work among groups become achievable. An organisation needs a set of good leaders, not bosses. We know that there can be many obstacles within an organisation, but the real strength of a leader is to reconcile all these challenges.

Benefits of team collaboration and collaborative leadership

  1. Building a strong relationship among employees due to the concept of collaboration.
  2. More efficient and committed employees due to teamwork.
  3. More flexibility and adaptability within an organisation, qualified and efficient team to deal with project challenges.
  4. Healthier and more satisfied employees with high motivation.
  5. Productive meetings through transparency.
  6. Accelerated production and value creation.
  7. Innovative and creative working environment.
  8. Strong relationship between the project's stakeholders.
  9. Continuous individual improvements.
  10. More project success and profitability of the organisation.
 Collaborative leadership is the future of any organisation. It is the effective way to work in a mutual context. In an organisation that works towards a common goal, there is a creative and innovative environment.  
Author: Mahesh EV is a project manager with more than 11 years of practical experience and the Senior Official of the IAPM in the metropolitan regions of New Delhi, Trivandrum and Calicut, India. Mahesh's implementation of many procurement and construction projects has broadened his experience. He has demonstrated his skills in the successful planning and execution of several projects, such as thermal power plants and renewable energy projects across India – from kick-off to handover of the plant.

Key words: Project management, Leadership, Tips

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