Team_IconHaving joined the growing numbers relying on social apps for their travelling this summer, Will Sudworth encourages business leaders to introduce this trend towards collaboration into the workplace too.

The chances are that like me, you took some time travelling this summer. With my sister and her children living by the seaside a long way away from my family, we embarked on our annual ‘warmer months’ journey using a number of stops. For my first time – with encouragement from consultancy colleague Paul Gisby from Voquinexus – I adopted three new social apps to help:

  • Waze – the world’s largest community–based traffic and navigation app
  • airbnb – renting unique places from local hosts
  • TripAdvisor – read reviews and plan your trip

Suddenly I was immersed in a new world of supportive information sharing. I could see other Waze users navigating the roads alongside me and was able to not just avoid emerging traffic jams as they built-up, but warn others as I saw cars pulling on to the hard shoulder. In choosing interesting places to stay (including an amazing Alpaca farm!), we were able not only to give feedback afterwards but (and this was a surprise to me) receive it too from the people that hosted us. We carefully reviewed people’s suggestions to discern where to eat out and then left our review for others too.

So when I tucked in to read The Future of Work, these lines from Jacob Morgan resonated for me in particular: “Today, the lack of employee empowerment in organizations is staggering…thanks to technology, individuals have the ability to fund everyone from a farmer in Senegal on a platform like Kiva to a budding new entrepreneur creating a new technology in San Francisco on a platform like Indiegogo. We can buy cars, take out loans to buy houses, save for college funds, and plan international vacations. Yet for some reason we still need to get approval to buy pens at work.”

Jacob goes on to quote these alarming 2013 statistics from Gallup: “only 13% of employees are engaged at work (defined as feeling a proud connection to their company), 63% are not engaged (defined as “checked out”), and 24% are actively disengaged (defined as acting out their unhappiness and undermining co-workers).

I reflected upon how a key way to increase engagement in these changing times is to lead in a way that gives space for leaders at all levels to participate and collaborate. The interesting shift for me is the trend towards people expecting collaboration and a participative leadership style in the workplace because of the increasing way we’re interacting together using technology in the wider world.

There are lots of reasons not to collaborate: it can be time-consuming, your ideas might be side-lined, or someone else may take the limelight to name but a few.Yet we all know that we achieve more by working together. Among the key findings from CLC’s 2014 research for the pharmaceutical industry was “Building collaborative relationships was rated as the most important quality needed for effective leadership. It topped the list for 90% of the pharma executives who provided Benchmarks performance data on leaders in their organizations.”

We’ve seen an increased uptake of red10’s “Good to Great” product this year, whereby we facilitate a group of leaders creating a compelling vision together, diagnosing root causes for why it hasn’t happened already, and prioritising and dividing out the solutions between themselves to implement them collaboratively and in a way that they then own.

So, as we return after the summer break – and however we choose to do it – why don’t we all start back with the intent to create more collaborative relationships helping to build the thriving businesses that we all want and need?