3 Tips for Implementing a Collaborative Culture at Your Workplace

Collaborative culture improves workplace productivity and efficiency. The renowned leadership expert Robert Donaldson talks about how companies can successfully implement it within the organization.

Collaboration leads to improved productivity, better efficiency, and enhanced ROIs. Leader-managers have to understand that individual growth for each team member becomes a uncompromising complementary function for supporting group mission success. That’s a fancy way of saying that if you want a successful group you build it based on the empowerment of each person within the group, from the bottom up and make sure they’re led by highly collaborative leaders.

Team collaboration

Robert Donaldson recently shared three effective tips for implementing collaborative culture. By following these guidelines, you can easily incorporate and promote a culture of collaboration within your organization.

1. Create a Collaborative Priority

In collaborative groups the actual act of collaboration sits equally important as each person’s technical skills. In the past (and still today in most groups): good technical skills is the primary method by which the new leader-managers advance up from the worker pool.

What we find in many successful groups today is that when a person is advanced into leadership based on their collaborative ability as well, the performance of the group increases significantly.

This is powerfully significant: when you hire a person to be a leader-manager who has the combined skill sets of collaboration along with technical skill sets it makes for an unbeatable combination.

By placing a higher priority on collaboration as a method by which a person advances in the organization it starts to marginalize people who don’t want to collaborate. Highly collaborative leader-managers expect the same from the people who follow them, meaning they will happily take the time to neutralize those in the group who don’t want to collaborate.

When prioritizing collaborative behaviors, the leader-managers reduce the amount of fear present in the group by advancing inclusion, delegating control and enhancing openness. When the leader-managers do this: group members move away from a flight, fight and freeze mental workplace toolbox and replace it with a rational, logical and ethical mental toolbox.

Most leader managers in most groups have no idea of how a collaborative workplace reduces fear and advances superior decision-making at every single level of the organization. And while you’re almost going get tired of hearing me say this, the fact is with a collaborative priority, the group is able to attract and keep their best talent and others who only want to concentrate on their personal agendas, simply leave.

Take away: Given enough time all you’re left with is a bunch of people who just want to collaborate. Imagine that.

2. Create Experts

In a collaborative environment leader-managers want to enhance mission-centered independent decision-making on the part of each member which then results in high levels of Job Satisfaction and massive Mission Centered productivity all at the same time.

In collaborative groups, training is designed to create an expert level of knowledge whether its technical skills or problem-solving skills or collaboration skills. Highly collaborative groups believe that the world is essentially undertrained, and they resolve that issue by placing an extraordinary amount of effort in training their people to expert levels.

When people are trained to expert levels in all their various roles it allows them to make better decisions which reduces the direct supervision burden on the part of the leadership while also allowing group members to be very satisfied effective autonomous decision makers. It feels good to have the autonomy to make decisions and to have the skill sets necessary to make the right decisions.

Empowerment through training to expert levels and then delegating tasks to your newly developed experts allows leaders-managers to manage less and lead more.

Take away: When creating experts, instead of watching the bumper cars colliding at the county fair everybody is now a Formula One race machine: elegant, purposeful and inspired.

Business leader giving pep talk to a team member

3. Lead More Manage Less

Now dovetailing off the advantages of Creating a Collabortive Priority and Creating Experts, leader-managers are able to manage less which then gives them more time to lead.

When you prioritize collaboration and couple that with creating experts in the group the problems that used to show up on your desk stop arriving. The typical reason a leader- manager has to increase direct supervision with the team below them is to make sure the outputs are meeting the requirements of senior management.

What I am proposing here is that when you take several simple steps to increase the expertise of the group members below the leader-manager and then delegate more management tasks to your new experts, the amount of time spent on direct supervision drops significantly allowing the leader-manager to lead more and manage less.

Don’t get me wrong really good managers do a lot of things really good but if they don’t delegate those management duties to their newly created experts, they won’t have the time to lead. When leader-managers are too busy managing and they’re not leading it’s a ship without a rudder. As this rudderless ship is chaotically bouncing around all your high performers hit the front door and never come back.

Even though everybody looks busy the culture is aimless, problem-solving is extremely stunted, productivity always seems to be a forced march and you can forget about innovation.

Group members, such as the selfish actors and manipulators, run amok all with their own personal agendas going unattended by a leader-manager who’s doing just the opposite by: managing more and leading less, driving the culture into the ground.

Great leaders are no-nonsense defenders of the culture that encourages and yes, sometimes demands, that everyone be the best that they can be. They are always looking for ways to increase inclusion, control, and openness for their followers. They relentlessly get people involved as one of their highest priorities.

They know that recovery from mistakes is more important than blame. They know they can’t punish their way to success. They know that high levels of training are critical in helping a group achieve great things, and that high levels of training give people the opportunity to grow and have more job satisfaction.

They protect the culture from destructive behavior. They know that toxic behavior paralyzes hardworking collaborators in their group and that as long as the bullies are in charge, the leader is not.

Great leaders love innovation. They love great ideas that improve the group towards mission success, regardless of who that idea comes from. Great leaders develop a healthy relationship with calculated risks. They know that if they don’t constantly innovate, the group is not standing still but actually falling behind.

Take away: I don’t care how satisfied you might feel while in busy performing your management duties if you don’t delegate you don’t lead. And please know you’re highly trained experts will manage your tasks just fine – get out there and lead, now.

Mutual respect between a team leader and member


  1. When leader-managers prioritize collaboration it allows for people move away from fight, flight and freeze and towards logical, rational and ethical approaches. By marginalizing personal agendas group members start to realize something that’s deeply satisfying for every human: they’re part of something larger than themselves.
  2. When leader-managers empower each and every group member to expert levels with high levels of training these new experts are now more autonomous and are now making mission centered independent decisions causing their job satisfaction levels to skyrocket right along with their performance. The combined increase of individual performance then has a dramatically positive impact on mission success.
  3. When leader-managers reduce the massive amount of direct supervision they spend on their management tasks and now lead more, group performance explodes on the scene like never before.

Collaborative Power Grab by Robert Donaldson

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Company Name: Collaborative Strategies Consulting Inc.

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