A metaphor for the collaborative leader


Recently, a colleague leading in a multi-party collaboration described her role to me as being a lubricant to the system. She told me her job was to facilitate, to connect people together who should be connected, to grease the wheels so to speak, and just generally remove obstacles so people could get their work done.

I like the idea of a lubricant as a metaphor for collaborative leadership. I think the attributes of a lubricant are consistent with the attributes I associate with someone who is being collaborative.

A lubricant:

  • reduces friction
  • improves flow and efficiency
  • promotes connections
  • transmits energy

These are the same properties we want to see in a collaborative leader. As lubricator (or if you rather, collaborative leader), one can:

  • Reduce friction e.g., by building consensus between people (and organizations)
  • Improve flow and efficiency e.g., by leveraging social media to improve communications
  • Promote connections e.g., by connecting the organization to more of itself as a way to address complex problems
  • Transmit energy e.g., by ensuring key bits of information are transferred throughout the organization

What metaphor do you use to describe a collaborative leadership style?

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Photo Credit: jeffwilcox

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