Collaborative Leadership Style Advantages, Disadvantages and Characteristics

The collaborative leadership style is defined by its balanced motivations. Leaders using this style which to create value in everything they do. That means they are always trying to influence or motivate people to create the greatest possible impact.

These leaders keep some control over the process. They also allow people to work independently because creativity is seen as a strength with this leadership style. The goal is to have the leader inspire people to do better instead of micromanaging the processes.

It is also a leadership style that features mentorship as a top priority. By working directly with their team, leaders using the collaborative process can transfer their knowledge, skills, and wisdom to their direct reports.

Other characteristics found in collaborative leadership include constructive feedback provision, open sharing of data, strong network building skills, and contextual intelligence.

Here is a look at the key advantages and disadvantages of using the collaborative leadership style in the workplace.

List of the Advantages of the Collaborative Leadership Style

1. Collaboration opens up the workplace to new workers.
Thanks to modern technology, the natural barriers of diversity are greatly reduced. We have fewer language, cultural, and ethnic differences today than ever before that interfere with work processes. The collaborative leadership style recognizes this and opens the workplace up to new ideas. This creates more diversity, which adds new ideas into the mix. Then anyone, anywhere has the ability to contribute to the work being done.

2. It strengthens the relationships of the team.
Instead of creating silos, collaboration works to break them down. People work together more often under this leadership style, which creates new opportunities to get to know people on a personal level. When these connections are fostered, it creates higher levels of loyalty within the team. It allows people to pursue what they are passionate about. Over time, this leads to better services being rendered, better products, and innovative processes.

3. Collaboration creates shorter lead times.
The collaborative leadership style allows each team member to focus on what they are best at doing. Each person is permitted to bring their strengths to each project. That allows the quality of work to improve because the focus is on building strength instead of shoring up weaknesses. With improved quality, the time for review and revision is reduced. That creates a cost-savings opportunity while also getting consumers the goods or services they want in a shorter time period.

4. There is a balance brought to every decision with this leadership style.
Collaboration is unique because it allows multiple voices to be heard, while retaining the authority to make a singular decision. Cooperation is encouraged with this leadership style because it requires each team member to maintain an open mind. Some workers might be resolute in their own opinions, but that determination is still balanced by the willingness of others to find common ground. This process works to reduce the unconscious bias that can often be found in the workplace.

5. It improves the morale of the team.
The collaborative leadership styles may communicate to some experienced workers that their input is not highly valued. For most people, however, the ability to learn from each other, work together, and solve problems together creates an inviting workplace. It is a process which naturally builds trust because each person is working toward the mutual success of everyone else. As that trust continues to grow, the morale of the team continues to improve, which then inspires even more collaboration to take place.

6. Collaborative leadership demands creativity.
Instead of trying to repress innovative and creativity, the collaborative leader demands its presence. All workers are encouraged to tap into their creative resources for the betterment of a project, the team, and the organization as a whole. Collaborative leaders aren’t fearful that someone might take their job one day. They invite the challenge instead. New ideas drive people forward and that’s what collaboration is able to bring.

7. It reduces the workload responsibilities of each individual.
Although collaborative leaders will offer individual assignments, the process of working together naturally divides the workload in an equal fashion. There may be times when more hands in a project could inspire creative differences, but for most workers, the chance to work together on something is better than the expectation of solving their own problems should something come up.

List of the Disadvantages of the Collaborative Leadership Style

1. Modern collaboration reduces face-to-face working relationships.
Although the goal of the collaborative leadership style is to reduce silos, for some teams, the process actually increases them. That is because modern collaboration can happen almost anywhere. Instead of working together on a project, workers might work on the same file from two very different locations. Modern collaboration is defined by the movement of information more than the building of an actual relationship. That means if there is a problem connecting to the Cloud, some collaboration efforts may not even work.

2. It requires people to stay connected with each other.
Because collaboration is such an intensive process, it can be difficult to separate co-worker relationships with personal relationships. People have fewer opportunities to shut down from work because they stay connected online with their team. That means there tends to be more stress in the working environment. It also means that everyone must invest into a reliable data connection, which may not be feasible for every household.

3. Collaboration doesn’t remove all forms of conflict.
Disagreements are common in the workplace. If everyone always had the same opinion, life would get pretty dull. When people remain in close proximity, however, the filters we have with a disagreement get taken down. Conflict occurs, sometimes based on moral objections, which create disruptions in the workflow. If a moral objection were to occur, there would be less sharing and productivity as each person involved would draw lines in the sand and seek out team support for their position.

4. Collaborative leadership styles can be costly.
Collaboration isn’t cheap. Because you are creating mentorship roles with this leadership style, you’re essentially having two people working on one project instead of just one person. This process enhances the quality of the work and improves the personal experiences of each team member. It also increases the labor costs of doing work. For some businesses, the costs of collaboration are just too high to implement.

5. It creates ambiguous roles.
Collaborative leaders must create strict job definitions and responsibilities for each team member to follow. Without these definitions in place, it may cause some workers to feel like they must take a leadership role in the collaborative relationship instead. This causes some people to force their ideas onto others, even if it isn’t the best path forward. On larger teams, this issue can become such a problem that it leads to rebellion, sabotage, and a high churn rate.

6. Collaboration can encourage groups to think alike.
Although the goal of a collaborative leadership style is to create relationships and foster unity, some teams can take that process a little too far. Without controls, collaboration can lead to group thinking and “yes” people. The team defers to the person with the strongest personality or loudest opinion. Instead of having equal experiences contribute to a project, the team decides to agree with the most persuasive individual. Instead of new ideas, the team ends up pursuing the personal outcomes that one person wants.

7. There may be issues with individual working styles.
People like to work in different ways. Some team members might stay at their computer until the job is done in its entirety. Others might like to take a couple breaks each hour to stretch their legs and get a snack. Although collaboration does encourage a deeper level of diversity, it also requires team members to be patient with one another. Working styles may clash. It is up to the leader to reduce these clashes by pairing people up who have similar styles to reduce the risks of a productivity reduction.

8. Some team members will see themselves as leaders too.
The collaborative leadership style encourages mentorship. One of the issues with mentorship is that it naturally creates a leader within the relationship. The person with the most experience takes on the leadership role. Some mentors might feel like their experience is even better than that of the leaders, which would push them toward a takeover of the team in time. To reduce this issue, it is up to the leader to create dual mentoring relationships, where each person brings something unique to the project.

The advantages and disadvantages of the collaborative leadership style show us that working together is a good thing if it is properly managed. Sharing experiences creates better goods and services and it can also create internal conflict. By identifying the potential negatives early on in the process, the benefits of collaboration are more likely to come out for the team.

Author Biography
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.