Solving Problems Effectively Through Collaborative Leadership


Christie Chua


2 min read

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“Great leadership is a group performance, not a solo act.” – Bob Vanourek

In the early 1900s, chief executive officers (CEOs) typically stood alone at the top, making most of the critical decisions while delegating responsibility to functional managers in the business. More CxO (or C-suite) roles soon emerged, but these individuals typically did not work closely together.

While this may have worked well for organisations in the past, the current dynamic business environment presents challenges that are multidimensional and far more complex – and thus multiple perspectives are needed before a decision can be made.

Today, tackling issues that organisations face requires both cross-disciplinary collaboration anddeep functional expertise, which no single function can satisfactorily address. However, it is not just the C-suite that needs to be in sync with one another; organisations would also benefit greatly if leaders shared the load with their people.

The Leaderonomics team had the opportunity to speak to Bob Vanourek – co-author of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations and the former CEO of five companies – a while back, where he shared one leadership insight that he’s gained over the years.

Watch the video here: Leadership Through Collaboration

“When I was starting out, I thought it was all on my shoulders – that I had to have all the answers, that I need to have confidence and never seem to be lost. And what I’ve discovered is, that’s impossible in today’s complex world.”

He says that when people are put in the right environment and culture, they have a great capability to solve problems, reduce cost, create new opportunities, and make the world a better place for all – but only if leaders create the right kind of opportunity.

“Sometimes I had people speak up to me as a voice of one. Sometimes I had somebody with no title or no authority come up and say: ‘Bob, I’m really not sure what you’re planning to do there is the right kind of thing.’ And the more that I created that kind of culture, that kind of group dynamic, the better our performance was,” Vanourek shares.

Research has indicated that is indeed the case. According to the 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends, respondents from organisations where the C-suite regularly collaborated on long-term interdependent work were the most likely to expect a growth of 10 per cent or more in the next year, and the move towards an environment where collaborative leadership is celebrated is quickly becoming one of the most powerful trends worldwide.

“I learnt that great leadership is a group performance, not a solo act. Think about the capabilities of people that challenge you to create that kind of culture, that kind of environment. It’s not all on your shoulders. Together, collaboratively, you and your colleagues can do amazing things,” says Vanourek. 

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