How Leaders Develop Collaborative Leadership for Effectiveness

Bonita Thompson, University of Pennsylvania


Leader emergence research indicates that organizations select leaders based on individualistic traits such as confidence, intelligence, and dominance. However, once in the role, leadership effectiveness research states that leaders are evaluated based on their ability to build strong relationships and to accomplish goals through other people. Increasingly, they must collaborate with people who may not report directly to them. Unfortunately, the qualities used to identify emerging leaders such as, confidence, intelligence, and dominance, are not necessarily the skills and qualities needed to build strong relationships and manage multiple collaborations. Few research studies have looked at how leaders collaborate or how they learn the skills necessary to collaborate effectively. This research study used qualitative interviews with board members, CEOs, C-Suite leaders, and mid-level managers who currently work in for-profit companies in the United States. Interviews sought to learn the leaders' observations and experiences regarding how they collaborate and how they learned their collaboration skills. This research study found that all participants had key collaborations as a part of their role and that 91% of participants felt those collaborations were an essential or important part of their job. Despite how important this aspect of leadership is, the most common ways that participants learned how to collaborate came from trial and error or childhood experiences. The skills associated with effective collaboration include maintaining focus on a goal, understanding other’s motives, listening, building trust through honest conversations, humbly being willing to learn, and encouraging diversity of thought. Leaders can recruit others by understanding their motives and aligning those motivations to a mutually beneficial goal. Further research is needed to develop training for leaders in gaining collaborative skills.

Subject Area

Educational leadership

Recommended Citation

Thompson, Bonita, "How Leaders Develop Collaborative Leadership for Effectiveness" (2022). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI28964056.