Blog Episode

What Leaders Need to Know to Coach for Collaboration

Why are we struggling with collaboration among so many leadership teams? The obvious answers are lack of alignment, agreement, and communication. If we look beneath the surface, it is a different story altogether that has great implications for removing barriers to high performance.

At the heart of coaching leaders toward greater collaboration is to understand what motivates each of them, including individual goals and aspirations.

Taking the time to really understand your top leaders is an investment worth making and can help you retain top talent in the long term while improving collaboration in the short term.

When things don’t go well between your leaders it’s not enough to understand rivalries, team competition, and the lack of cooperation, but to look deeper.

So, spending time understanding each leader’s strengths, style, motivations, goals, and career aspirations gives you greater insight as a leader and coach. Opportunities will emerge to engage in meaningful dialogue around collaboration. When the inevitable occurs like differences, conflict, lack of cooperation and missed opportunity for collaboration you have a place to start if you have nurtured relationships by understanding each leader on your team.

Some behaviors that are barriers to collaboration that leaders need to recognize and be prepared to coach are:


A leader motivated to stand out and make a difference can show up as too independent and competitive, your role is to coach this leader to understand that this behavior can limit advancement opportunities as well as frustrate peers. Your coaching can help this leader to see that getting noticed can happen by working in the service of the team. This leader succeeds when the team succeeds.

Goal Achieving:

A leader motivated to get results and achieve great things can show up as instigating conflict, lacking cooperation and the impatience to push forward can be seen as challenging. Your opportunity is to coach this leader to value relationships as much as accomplishments as no one collaborates alone.

Solution Seeking:

 A leader motivated to analyze problems and get the right solutions may be too independent, not seeking or valuing the input of peers in decision making. This can be seen as too independent, competitive, and uncooperative. Your opportunity as a coach is to help this leader understand that placing more value on all peers arriving at the same place than the motivation to be right or the expert is an opportunity worth exploring.

Over Accommodating:

A leader who values consensus and cooperation too much may be too accommodating when differences occur and resent not having a voice in final outcomes. Your opportunity is to help this leader to find the voice to be assertive when it matters to be a part of a collaborative outcome.

While leaders know collaboration is best to have leader buy-in to achieve optimal results the path is not an easy one and your role as an effective coach is essential to the short-term success of your leaders. Also, to guide them to achieve long-term career goals while valuing what it takes to achieve hard-won collaboration as a leadership team.

Leaders are more loyal and committed to those who invest in their development when it matters. So, think about coaching leaders to be more in touch with their goals and aspirations. Spending time getting to know what motivates each leader is time well spent.