Collaborative leaders come alongside people. They ask questions and really listen. They truly believe that the people on their team might have a solution to a problem that they hadn't thought of. They come alongside those they lead, both to help them and to be helped by them, to speak but also to listen, to teach but also to learn.
Collaboration is not the same as delegation—where the team leader tells each person what to do. Rather, a collaborative leader listens and actually expects the people she leads to solve problems and move forward together.
Nancy Ortberg, founding partner of Teamworx2, a business and leadership consulting firm, discussed what she calls "non-linear leadership" in a recent interview:
"I think that often leaders come to work thinking about the wrong things. From a teamwork perspective, your number one job every day is to ask, ‘What is the quality of your team and how can I support it?' I'm constantly thinking about the people on my team, how they work together, what they need, what obstacles are in their way. How can I help develop them as leaders?"
She adds: "Vulnerability takes the team to a whole different level of trust. When you work with a vulnerable leader, you feel as if there's a reason for you being around that circle. You're not just executing their vision. The vision is collaborative."
Keri Wyatt Kent is a freelance writer, a speaker, and author of nine books, including Deeper into the Word: Reflections on 100 Old Testament Words. She's led small groups, Bible studies, and service teams at Willow Creek Community Church for more than 20 years. Connect with her at www.keriwyattkent.com or on twitter at @keriwyattkent.