Collaboration and leadership

It seems to me that collaboration is a hot topic in IT nowadays. With the emergence of social networking, a new breed of online collaboration is forming (sometimes referred to as enterprise 2.0). It strikes me that the new breed of tools to a large degree  support a transformational leadership style instead of the more classic transactional leadership style.

For example, transactional leadership with support from “traditional” tools:

  1. The manager gives her subordinate an assignment to write some document enclosed in an email
  2. The subordinate receives the assignment in email, creates and writes a document, drop it to a company file share, and emails his boss to review the document
  3. The manager reviews the document and sends a response in email
  4. The subordinate updates the document according to his boss’ review and finalize the document. Then, he notifies his boss that the document is finished.

This would be an example of transformational leadership: The boss creates a Wiki page for the document, and invites her subordinate to participate, either by screen sharing or editing directly in the Wiki page, and they work on the document together. It might be that my view on transformational leadership is too simplified or misunderstood, but I think there is a link.

I think that starting to use new collaboration tools often would mean a shift in leadership style in the organization. These tools invites us to work differently, and will not gain their potential usage unless we are willing to let go of traditional ways of working. Starting to use collaboration tools thus benefits greatly from leadership buy-in, although not strictly necessary (it could emerge from the masses).