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Embedding collaboration into the organisational culture

Collaboration is an essential element in building resilience and organisational adaptability, critical for the success of any team as equipping them with enhanced skills for collaboration is a significant opportunity for employee learning and development, as well as the development of a people-centered organisational culture.

A recent study, including more than 3,000 employees across fifteen different industries and seven countries found that 76 percent of the participating employees enjoy collaboration in the workplace, but nearly a third feel that leaders should change how they collaborate.

The importance of trust

Organisations and leaders felt the effects of the pandemic and most of them are still learning about the best ways to lead their employees. Whilst taking the necessary steps during these challenging times, many organisations may have had an increased focus on maintaining and strengthening structural changes rather than investing in changes that could enhance collaboration in the long term, enabling innovation and providing flexibility in the ways of working.

The first step in shifting a leadership mindset from structure and control to one of collaboration and trust that embraces both synchronous and asynchronous work is awareness and the creation of different management practices and working systems to bring the best out of teams. Trust is essential for a strong and healthy organisational culture because when employees trust one another and the leadership team, they feel more engaged and collaborative. Employees in high-trust organisations are better at collaborating, more productive and show greater loyalty than their peers in low-trust organisations because they feel empowered to take risks and innovate, which leads to better performance for the organisation as a whole.

A leader's capacity to inspire trust in others is essential in motivating and inspiring members of their team, as well as creating a collaborative culture. Research led by neuroscientist Paul Zak indicates that trust and commitment “synergistically improve operational performance” as both trigger regions of the human brain to “motivate cooperation with others.” Just as trust connects regions of an individual brain to drive cooperation, it also connects stakeholders across the organisation. When trust is embedded in the organisational culture, it leads to increased commitment to driving success on an individual employee level.

Promoting collaboration

One of the most important elements leaders can pay attention to in creating a culture of collaboration is actively promoting it. Just like being busy and being productive are not the same, for leaders to become more essential, they need to become less involved, delegate and enable collaboration. It is a leadership paradox and requires leaders to activate those around them to be successful, instead of holding on to their work or doing so in isolation.

By walking the talk, leaders can demonstrate the impact of individuals coming together, not just by promoting a more effective way of working across the organisations, but also exchanging ideas and driving innovation. It is essential that leaders consider how the decisions they make affect the values, ideas and culture of the organisation. Alignment between a leader’s actions, words and values is the key to building an engaged workforce as many employees are more likely to become devoted to an organisation when they see leadership practices that match their own beliefs and values

Today, more than ever before, the workplace has become more diverse. As a result of the increased diversity, there is increased variation in how employees learn, work and what they prioritise and need from their workplace. This variability means that leaders need to collaborate through different modalities, utilising platforms that allow for and encourage wide collaboration via asynchronous ways of working. At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering training and development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops, and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at

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