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The Wellspring of Collaborative Leadership:
How Do You Feel About People?

The introduction to Leading Together: Foundations of Collaborative Leadership starts with the following paragraph.

Over the long haul, truly effective leadership always starts and ends with a feeling for and about the people involved. Leadership always involves a group, a team, an organization, or a community – in other words, other people. Leaders never accomplish anything alone. Thus it stands to reason that leaders should pay close attention to the people they influence and the people who might be helped or hurt by their decisions and their actions. 

Since each and every one of us is also a person, it stands to reason that we should try to learn as much as we can about the ways we all tend to behave, the ways we all tend to  learn and grow, and the ways we all tend to make decisions. In the "Readings and Lessons" part of this site we have included some materials about the normal stages of psychosocial development, the normal levels of human need, and the normal stages of moral reasoning.
 
In his widely influential study, The Human Side of Enterprise, Douglas McGregor summarized two contradictory approaches to normal, general human nature: Theory X and Theory Y. When he did his research in the 1950s and 1960s, McGregor found that most managers and executives in the business world felt that most people, most of the 
time, were not very intelligent, not very creative, not willing to work very hard, and not receptive to responsibility. He called that attitude Theory X. Theory X leaders tend to see most people as children, even if they are adults. Theory X leaders generally lead by intimidation and by simple rewards and punishments.
 
But McGroegor also found a growing cadre of leaders, managers, and executives who had more faith in most people, most of the time, especially when the surrounding context and environment were favorable. He called that attitude Theory Y. Theory Y leaders recognize that intelligence comes in a variety of forms, that creativity is widely shared in the human population, that most people, most of the time, are normally willing to work hard for goals they believe in, and that people normally seek responsibility for goals and for other people they care about in their own world. Theory Y leaders see healthy adults as healthy adults, not as children. Theory Y leaders help others clarify shared goals and then support the group in pursuit of those goals. By and large, Theory Y leadership is, in fact, collaborative leadership.
 
The Servant Leadership movement, founded by Robert K. Greenleaf, also contributed significantly to the development of collaborative leadership. Like McGregor, Greenleaf also believed that effective leadership begins with a natural feeling for and about people. We'll post another blog about Greenleaf and Servant Leadership here soon. Meanwhile, you can check them out at the Greenleaf Center website.