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Time to bury the hatchet?

The word collaboration has over the years been associated with treason. A collaborator was someone who cooperated with the enemy and for a lot of people, the very idea of any collaboration between management and employees is seen as “teaming up with the enemy”.

The word collaboration has over the years been associated with treason. A collaborator was someone who cooperated with the enemy and for a lot of people, the very idea of any collaboration between management and employees is seen as “teaming up with the enemy”.

The reason for this unfortunate situation is a traditional void between between the parties who need to be part of a collaborative leadership. Some organisations bridge this gap in a reasonable manner, due mainly to the personal maturity of management and employees and a realtively trauma-free history. Others have a very different situation where the extreme may be an open conflict, where much time and effort is spent protecting yourself and inflicting harm on the “enemy”. Even the knowledge that the long term effects are bad for all isn’t sufficient to stop the battle.

The first step, to even have a chance to improve the quality of cooperation is to bury the hatchet and let go of the past. Only when there is an actual will for better co-operation is there a chance to move on. If there is no will, there will be little development, and in an organisation with a tradition of ruthless exploitation of staff, management by terror and where any managers showing the slightest weakness have been the prey of vengeful, bullying employees the trust and the will may be nonexistent. No-one is satisfied with the situation but no-one is willing to take the first step. “Winning” is more important than functioning. Destructive chaos preferable to “losing”.

Still this is where we have to begin. To try and reach that first small, fragile expression of intent: “ok, we’ll give it a chance.” Then there is something to carefully nurture and develop instead of  continuing along that habitual, destructive path with all that it costs in time, money and human suffering. But, before any intent is expressed, managers and employees will need to know what “it” is they are to give a chance. They will need to know what collaborative leadership actually is and how it can be a more intelligent way of taking action.

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