Groupwork Centre Blog

7 skills you need to lead … and avoid burnout

1 woman and 2 men in informal business clothes, seated in a circular curve, smilling, in an office environment

Collaborative leaders support team members so they enjoy working together

He just wants to be told what to do …”

“Why didn’t she let me know she’d made a mistake?”

“They can’t seem to bounce back from our funding cuts; it’s still an issue.”

If you have consistent patterns of tension, conflict or under-performance, you could be part of the problem.

Rather than constantly losing time and emotional energy on tricky team dynamics, maybe it’s time to have a look at your role as a leader.

It’s not about going it alone: you’ll get further using less energy if you lead collaboratively. However, effective collaboration is easier said than done. Doing it well involves a considerable range of skills and processes.

You may be surprised to hear what we see as essential for you to be a great leader. Would your team tick all the boxes below about you?

1. Emotional resilience

  • Applying your emotional intelligence to act with competence, confidence and compassion in all interactions.
  • Being aware of your attributes and leadership style.
  • Using a range of essential management communication micro-skills, with wisdom to use them appropriately.

2. Ability to step into tension and conflict

  • Being able to manage your own reactions in challenging situations.
  • Being willing and able to face conflict early, be open to looking at your own contribution, and engaging actively in its resolution.
    Ability to facilitate others in conflict.

3. Awareness of power and rank

  • Acknowledging and incorporating the skill, experience and wisdom of other team members.
  • Understanding your power, and using it consciously to work with people, not over them.

4. Great facilitation skills

  • Collaborative decision-making skills to gather, pool and synthesise others’ experience and wisdom, understanding who needs to be a part of the process.
  • Facilitating collaborative processes to bring about the best outcomes.
  • Creating effective meetings that produce clear outcomes.

5. Performance management skills

  • Being able to make work performance expectations clear to people, ensuring they have the skills and resources they need.
  • Recognising existing skills and potential in your staff. Encouraging, affirming and developing this potential.
  • Being able to manage underperformance promptly, fairly and appropriately.

6. Connecting with perspective

  • Capacity to see the ‘big picture’ of the overall organisational system – not just focusing on ‘our patch’.
  • Collaborating effectively with others at all levels across the organisation as well as with clients, key stakeholders and partners.
  • Having the skills to give and receive ‘hearable feedback’.

7. Working sustainably

  • Developing your capacity to show compassion and a generosity of spirit to build rapport, think well of people and foster workplace trust.
  • Establishing and maintaining your own self-care plan.


It’s quite a list! But we’ve identified and explored all of these features from our experience in the arena over the last three decades, and stand by them. Of course, we’re all a work in progress, but if you’d like some help, get in touch with us.

In our workplace training and short courses on collaborative leadership, we work on each of these areas, incorporating your personal challenges and learning needs so that you get to practice and polish the skills you most want to focus on.

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