Think About It: OIWC asks, is your company encouraging collaborative leadership?

Each person in a company has a job to keep that organization operating. Each is in charge of a highly crucial yet delicate role. Learn the benefits of building a work environment that facilitates collaborative leadership among peers.

Her name is Old Bea. She is a 1996 Volvo Station Wagon with a dark green paintjob, bubbled tint and she smells like mud. Old Bea is my most prized possession, and not just because of her unique looks or distinctive temperament. She has required me to move mountains thinking outside of the (tool)box in order to keep her running. Parts fall off, things explode and nuances of originality constantly appear. Just to turn the key, I have to use a little elbow grease, a ton of patience and vast amounts of creativity.

A business is like a car. Some are shiny and new, others have a bit more character; however, each business will likely see a few different drivers, oil changes and replacement parts come through. Each person in a company has a job to keep that organization operating. Each is in charge of a highly crucial yet delicate role.

When our cars need some TLC, we can easily go to a mechanic or a car wash. But when it comes to companies, maintenance and investment is a far more detailed process -- and in today’s economic frontier, some companies are turning to “mechanics” of their own.

Pollyanna Pixton is the co-founder of both Accelinnova and The Institute for Collaborative Leadership. During these times, Pixton’s motto resonates: “It's no longer enough to respond to change. Organizations must lead change or be left behind.” Pixton’s business strategy aims to facilitate the growth, productivity and profitability of organizations and their critical business relationships, as well as guide individuals to develop their talents through learned tactics and applications, and shared knowledge and experiences.

An outside eye is sometimes the only way an organization can see itself objectively. In such an interconnected world, companies need to continually evolve to bridge the gap and fill in the holes with the right ideas and the right people.

What about organizations, though, that aim for that creative synergy using the resources within their own walls? What about those companies that, for the most part, use their own internal mechanics to drive, develop and manage their own success?

Tara Wilkinson is the marketing director of Vancouver-based Ryders Eyewear. As the company prepares for the celebration of its 25th anniversary amidst constant new product launches, creative collaboration has been the central theme. She provided some tips that have proved effective in company operations:

1.An open-concept work space allows us to hear and contribute to what’s going on at any given time.

2.We have few layers and no kings: When we get swamped with orders, we all help out in the warehouse. When we work on branding, everyone contributes.

3.We ask ourselves, “Why?” It is important to explain why something is significant to do before you ask or expect someone to do it.

4.We publicly recognize initiative and curiosity.

5.We operate like a family. Families are bonded by shared beliefs, laughs, tears and meals. Collaboration starts with getting to know each other.

Providing specific examples, Wilkinson said, “Right now, I’ve been spearheading some Ryders branding work with our team. In preparation for our upcoming anniversary, we’ve been asking questions, like, ‘What does Ryders stand for?’ and ‘What do we want Ryders to be known for?’ The whole office participates in a branding exercise every month as part of our monthly update meeting.”

She added, “I’ve used picture exercises, brand-personality card decks, blank sheet exercises -- short, creative thought-starters that get people out of their comfort zone, engaged and talking.”

Whether the forward-moving momentum is caused by an internal or external catalyst, it is clear that every organization is a malleable body that can be positively affected by all who are involved. Every company needs a bit of elbow grease and creativity on its path to success, it’s this kind of thinking and day-to-day living that keeps the engine running.

As for Old Bea’s engine, well, it requires a bit of luck, too.


>> The Institute for Collaborative Leadership:

>> Accelinnova:

>> Archer, David; Cameron, Alex (2008). “Collaborative leadership – how to succeed in and interconnected world.” Butterworth Heinem

>> Bennis, Warren; Ward Biederman, Patricia (1996) “Organizing Genius – The Secrets of Creative Collaboration.”Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.

Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition is a membership community of professionals in the outdoor industries united to provide power, influence and opportunity for women in outdoor-related businesses and to generate champions to inspire other women. For more information, visit

This monthly column, a partnership between OIWC and SNEWS®, aims to address the issues that concern women in the industry most -- anything that is controversial, topical or newsworthy relating to women and the outdoors. The goal is to help, educate, inspire and grow. We welcome your ideas, gripes, thoughts and comments. Bring it on. E-mail us at

Devon Sibole is an account manager at OutsidePR, an outdoor-oriented public relations and sports marketing firm in San Francisco, Calif.



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