05/03/20, Cate Nelson Shaw

The NEW! Leadership plays: 2. Collaborate, don't coerce

Intent-Based Leadership, leadership, David Marquet

The collaborate play is initiated after controlling the clock.

Industrial Age organisations assigned deciding and doing to two groups of people: blueworkers and redworkers. Blue-workers (management) needed to get the redworkers to follow the decisions the blueworkers decided for them. Blueworkers achieved this through coercion.

Coercion seemed like an ugly word, so instead we used words like coaxed, goaded, prodded, influenced, motivated and inspired. Language patterns in the coerce play are highly skewed toward the leader’s voice.

For collaboration, we need to let the doers be the deciders. There is still bluework and redwork, but there are no blueworkers and no redworkers.

Collaboration requires us to share ideas, be vulnerable and respect their ideas of others. Collaboration happens through the questions we ask and requires that we admit we don’t have the whole picture. Deep down, we need to believe others can contribute to our thinking and understanding of the world.

With collaboration we ask questions starting with “what” and “how.” We invite dissent. We practice being curious before being compelling.

The leader’s obligation is to listen to the dissenters, not to stall decisions until each is convinced of the new direction. Always stopping action because of dissent gives too much power to dissenters. It will invite blockers, inhibit bold decision making and delay action.

Language patterns in the collaborate play are evenly spread across the team. Share of voice among team members is more equal and the Team Language Coefficient is lower.

Collaboration is a core process of bluework. When we re-sort to coercion, we get compliance. When we engage in collaboration, we get commitment, which is our next play.

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