In my chapter of ATD’s book Focus on Them, I describe Nelson Mandela as my favorite leader. Why him, you ask? His story is remarkable. He was an optimist who had a vision for replacing apartheid with democracy in South Africa. He spent 27 years in prison planning how he would accomplish that task, using leadership and persuasion over violence to create a win-win solution and change a nation. He was also an innovative leader who saw the value of sport in leveraging people’s emotions, demonstrating a collaborative mindset in winning people to his cause.
Unfortunately, most of us today lament a lack of collaborative role models in leadership positions to emulate at the top of many of our organizations. My search for leadership began early in my career when I was introduced to Ken Blanchard and several of his programs and books. After that, I was hooked. Over the years, I learned as much as I could about leaders who were successful in the business world as well as other arenas such as politics, sports, and the battlefield. That got me back to Mandela.
Throughout my career I’ve spent most of my time working with, developing, and coaching managers. While serving in senior-level HR positions, I often found myself in situations where I was constantly trying to persuade people to move from win-lose scenarios to win-win scenarios. At some point, I decided to improve my scoring strategy for generating win-win solutions, and as a result, I wrote my first book, The Collaborator. In this book, I married my passion for leadership with my passion for sport, introducing people to a new, innovative way to collaborate leading to a marked departure in the way teams work.
So, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. More importantly, however, is your story. If you are in search of a clear path (such as a new management process) to follow to develop a team that practices genuine team collaboration, your search may be over if you elect to read my chapter in Focus on Them. While this learning and development journey may not take you places where no one has gone before, it will be a journey on a road less traveled. Along this journey, you will discover a new operating platform for collaboration, learn how to develop a collaborative mindset and skill set, understand what it takes to function in a leader-as-coach role, and gain a renewed appreciation for team coaching.
In writing my chapter, I’ve gone to the past, blending old theory with new thinking. My hope is that this chapter serves as a building block for kick-starting your journey to become a collaborative leader who practices collaborative leadership at work. And, perhaps, soon you will become someone’s favorite collaborative leader.