Circular Leadership Skills - Do You have them?

Technological advances are disrupting the status quo and creating turbulence. Industries are converging and new competitors are emerging at lightning speed. At the same time, resources are constrained and it demands that we rethink the way we think about materials.

Companies need to seek outside their own ecosystem for ideas and execution in timely speed and collaborate. What is collaboration all about - and what kind of leadership attitude does it take?

Valuable materials are leaking from our economies. In a world where demand and competition for finite, and sometimes scarce resources, will continue to increase. Where pressure on resources is causing greater environmental degradation and fragility. In such a world we can benefit economically and environmentally from making better use of those resources. There is a strong business case for improving resource productivity. It is estimated, that resource efficiency improvements all along the value chain could reduce the material input needs by 17-24% by 2030. A better use of resources could represent an overall savings potential of €630 billion per year, for the European industry alone.

Since the industrial revolution, waste has constantly grown. This is because our economies have used a “take-make-consume and dispose pattern of growth – a linear model, which assumes that resources are abundant, available and cheap to dispose of. That is why it is called the Circular Economy, it is simply circular. We will not dispose it, but recirculate it into the economy.

The Circular Economy is also described as the Collaboration Economy. Primarily because it is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations. In a time of rapid change, the ability to innovate quickly and effectively, again and again, is perhaps the only enduring competitive advantage. Those firms that can innovate constantly will thrive. Those that do not, or cannot, will be left behind.

It is about decoupling growth from constrained resources through innovation. It is about rethinking materials, methods of make, products, how to partner and business models to solve complex challenges. Simply put: We all have to re-challenge the mental model of what materials are. Your challenge in this playing field is, that the people who will make you and your business successful does not necessarily work in your own organization. They may not even share your language, beliefs, manner or behaviors. But without their skills and effort, you will never deliver the results you need to as a leader in today's world. That is why you need to learn the discipline of collaboration. It is a competency.

Collaboration isn’t simply about "being nice to each other". Effective collaboration, whether between individuals or whole businesses, is about strong, robust relationships where partners can scrutinize each other and deal with conflicts constructively in an environment based on trust.

Wikipedia says: “A Collaboration is a purposeful relationship in which all parties strategically choose to cooperate in order to achieve shared or overlapping objectives."

The Collaboration Model from Collaboration Growers has 6 cornerstones:

  • Define the need and create awareness
  • Build the guiding governance
  • Build the collaboration platform
  • Define the customer collaborative activities
  • Get moving: Seek, assess, validate and engage
  • Stay on top of things: Manage and exit

Collaborative leadership is the type of leadership required to get results across the organizational boundaries. It requires a basic leadership skill set. It is all about:

  • Confrontation: Collaborative leaders need to be able to handle conflict early. It is called constructive disagreement.
  • Influence: Collaborative leaders need to be able to share control and determine their strategy for influencing others
  • Engage and learn: Collaborative leaders can not be successful without the skills of networking and relationship building. It needs a recursive process of trial and error.
  • Integrative decision-making: Much of creating something novel and useful arises from combining existing ideas, including ideas that once seemed mutually exclusive.
  • Patience and Urgency: Creativity can not be scheduled. People need time to absorb and digest. To make integrative decisions possible, leaders must know when to allow debate and discovery and when to move on to decision making and execution.
  • Self-awareness: A collaborative leader must be underpinned by a willingness to truly listen and be open minded to the view of others

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