Glenn Williams

by Glenn Williams


The risk of collaboration

In 2006, Dr. André Martin for the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), analyzed global trends in order to paint a picture of the challenges and needs facing organizations as they seek to develop leaders to guide them through the complexity and uncertainty of the future.[i]

His research sample was 800 leaders aged 29-70. The organizations they led ranged in size from 11 employees to 10,000. Sixty percent were male and 30 percent of them were top executives. Although 52.7 percent were U.S-based, 28 different countries were represented.

Dr. Martin’s primary assumption was that many leaders were not prepared for the rapidly changing global landscape. He highlights the work of Juan Enriques in, As the Future Catches You, who argues that the time span in which leaders have to prepare for change gives people twenty-four hours, rather than years.[ii]

Best-selling author, Malcolm Gladwell, in two of his books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, says that society has reached a pivotal point requiring us to make decisions faster, and do it better and more effectively.[iii]

Martin identifies four global trends from his research, of which we will address two.

First, the Ground Truth of Globalization; the recognition that the world has changed and leaders have access to enormous amounts of information, which is compounding daily.

Leaders were asked to assess their organizations across 11 continuums of leadership, comparing it from five years ago, to how they believe it is currently and what they believe it will be in five years. The data showed that leaders recognized there was a need to embrace more collaborative and innovative approaches to solving problems.

Second, the Rise of Complex Challenges. Ninety-three percent of the leaders surveyed believed the challenges they faced were more complex than five years earlier, and that organisations tend to focus more on containing uncertainty rather than managing risk.

From seven different impacts identified—cross-functional challenges (52.2%), collaboration (49.6%), and speed of response (44.8%) were the top three. However, only 38% saw collaboration as enhancing co-worker relationships.

This means workers are being asked to improve collaboration for better outcomes, but don’t have time to build the very relationships they need to achieve them. This inability to develop and leverage key relationships undermines the need for a flourishing and productive work culture.

What’s the bottom-line?

Leaders who want their organizations to be effective and competitive must help their leaders and managers collaborate more by –

  • Giving leaders skills they need to forge strong, healthy relationships and partnerships;
  • Developing new systems of reward and recognition that demonstrate the importance of developing a workplace culture which cultivates behaviors that fuel greater success; and
  • Aligning strategy, people, and technology in such a way they can adapt to the speed of change.

[i] André Martin, “A New Map of Leadership: Global Trends Impacting Leaders and Leadership Development,” Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), (accessed April 16, 2011).

[ii] Juan Enriques, As the Future Catches You: How Genomics and Other Forces Are Changing Your Life, Work, Health, and Wealth (New York, NY: Crown Business, 2001). [Kindle Edition].

[iii] Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (First Back Bay, 2002); Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (New York, NY: Little, Brown & Company, 2005).


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