Connection is at the Heart of Collaboration

Aug 24, 2022

Change is constant, and so is the necessity to collaborate to move forward. The ability to collaborate, and foster collaboration between others, is an essential 21st century leadership competency.

Traditional command-and-control leadership styles that were prevalent in the industrial era when people were paid to perform routine tasks are not as effective in today’s working environments. Now in the knowledge era where people get paid to think, new forms of leadership are beginning to emerge and take hold. The study of Neuroleadership offers significant insight into why command-and-control leadership styles trigger threat responses in the brain and do not serve the social and emotional needs of followers. In tandem with this, the complexity of business has increased significantly because of increased global competition and virtualization. Leaders need to be able to un-tap the potential of followers across distant and diverse boundaries, and leverage the benefits of collaborative thinking. 

What can a leader do to set the stage for effective collaboration?

  • foster in-group thinking and acceptance of all. A leader can increase relatedness between co-workers, branches, or divisions by fostering shared goals and finding likenesses.
  • foster respectful disagreement and make sure that all voices are heard.
  • foster individual and team accountability.
  • anticipate and plan for possible threat and reward responses.

Humans have a fundamental need to belong and to be accepted. Research has shown that the quality of our social connections is the largest factor in our happiness over the long-haul, more so than health or money. When collaboration goes well, people greatly benefit from the social connection and networks with others and the reward of group success.


About the Author

Sandra McDowell, MA, PCC, CPHR, SHRM-SCP

As the founder and voice behind eLeadership Academy™, Sandra McDowell helps leaders and organizations increase performance and well-being by leveraging insights from cognitive science to harness the untapped power of the brain.