‘Being There’ is what I think of when I think ‘cooperative leadership’. Offer colleagues the opportunity to lean on you, and learn how to lean on them. We often forget to ask people for their help in our anxiety to please and be helpful. Be specific with your request for help. This allows the other person to quickly judge if s/he can help you or refer you to someone else.
People with strong social capital are often cooperative leaders whose expertise, connections, opinions and contributions are respected by others. Social capital is not earned by a job title, but rather through the earned respect of others. In competitive intelligence social capital is valued, when positioning and communicating with fellow employees, especially executives. Remember it takes time to build those relationships, and sometimes we’re impatient to get respect before we’ve earned it.
Ulla describes another cooperative leadership practice. Take a stand confidently and refuse to bend in the face of criticism or opposition. Cooperative leaders “just do it” without a safety net. Ulla shares her experience of convincing a manager of the need for a program at a local educational institute, which she then created. She “did it” because she thought it needed doing.
Work constantly to strengthen your networks. Always ask yourself, “Who else should be part of this conversation?” Remember that people who could benefit from your knowledge need to learn about your expertise. Communicate in person or electronically with your peers and managers at work or by presenting at relevant meetings, trade shows or through teaching. Share your discoveries, experiences and opinions electronically through websites, blogs, social media or formal publications.
I love how Ulla ends her article by suggesting that you make it a priority to undertake actions and responsibilities that are above and beyond the call of duty. You can do this because you have others to lean on.
Ulla de Stricker, 2007 chair of SLA’s Leadership and Management Division, is a Toronto-based information and knowledge management consultant. She speaks regularly about career-related matters and writes about information and knowledge management on her blog. Her book, Business Cases for Info Pros: Here’s Why, Here’s How, was published in 2008 by Information Today, Inc. Here is a list of her publications. Contact Ulla.