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In an ever-changing world, we face rapid changes like never before. New issues emerge, and as leaders, we play a major role in setting an example. Collaborative leadership, with its healthy governance practices, breaks down silos and surrounds itself with competent, diverse, and inspiring individuals to generate innovative ideas and address complex challenges. So, how does governance fit into the application of collaborative leadership?


First, let’s clearly define governance.

Governance encompasses all the functions and methods implemented by the board of directors and the organization’s management to develop a strategic vision, ensure goal attainment, identify and manage risks, and make appropriate use of resources. In practice, governance can be broken down into two aspects: compliance and value creation.

Compliance refers to the set of procedures, laws, and historical elements of the organization that are considered when making decisions. Think of statistical data, general regulations, dashboards, strategic plans, etc.

As for value creation, it refers to the surrounding elements of the organization, such as its network, industry insights, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and innovation. These are elements that contribute to contemplating the organization’s future. Engaging in boards of directors contributes to the prosperity of an organization, helps develop a network of contacts, and provides an opportunity to learn from others. The experience and knowledge gained from serving on boards of directors and being involved can only be beneficial to the community.


Structure, Processes, and Policies

Coordination among stakeholders is the foundation of any collaboration. Well-established structures, policies, and processes are necessary to guide the collaborative environment and foster a culture of collaboration. Good governance precisely creates a common vision, meaningful initiatives, and fully harnesses the skills of each individual. When stakeholders have divergent interests and risks, a strong governance structure creates a space for dialogue that promotes trust in finding balanced solutions that meet everyone’s needs.


Culture of Collaboration and Innovation

One similarity between collaborative leadership and governance is that both focus on leveraging the strengths and skills of individuals to overcome complex challenges and achieve exceptional results. By adopting an inclusive approach that incorporates the perspectives and contributions of diverse stakeholders, we foster innovation. *Did you know that companies with a board of directors innovate 67% more than those without one, and the presence of a dedicated innovation person or department internally also boosts innovation projects (74% compared to 42% without such a structure)? Moreover, according to data from the major survey on SMEs and innovation in 2020, those managed by a board of directors invest twice as much as the average percentage of their revenue in research, development, and innovation (8% versus 3.6%). These compelling statistics demonstrate how governance and innovation go hand in hand! Effective governance ensures the inclusion of all in the decision-making process, stimulates innovation, and places it on the agenda.


Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)

One of the missions of collaborative leadership and sound governance is to create an environment where every voice is heard, respected, and valued. It is essential to promote a culture of inclusion by surrounding ourselves with professionals from different backgrounds and varied expertise. Collaborative leadership goes beyond mere decision-making; it also involves active listening, recognizing talents, and creating opportunities for all. By fostering diversity of ideas, backgrounds, and experiences, we create an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.


Social Responsibility and ESG

Currently, we face several crises that we have created, such as famines, climate change, biodiversity loss, the COVID-19 pandemic, and conflicts. It is increasingly evident that economic issues are directly linked to social and environmental issues. By adopting an approach of social and environmental responsibility, we can become value creators focused not only on financial performance but also on overall performance, considering environmental, social, and governance criteria (ESG). Governance plays a major role in implementing ESG practices. For example, the board of directors has a mission to integrate ESG into the organization’s overall strategy, create policies related to ESG, and put these issues on the meeting agenda. By promoting stakeholder inclusion and reducing risks associated with ESG issues, we contribute to creating a more sustainable future.


How could you be an example of change?

In light of this reflection, what could you do today to have an impact on tomorrow’s society? As Peter Drucker once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Therefore, for a culture of collaboration to emerge, it is the responsibility of leaders to assume the role of change agents and shape the future. And, among other things, it is through practices of sound governance that we can achieve this.



*Sources : Grande enquête « Les PME québécoises et l’innovation en temps de pandémie« , QuébecInnove, 2020.
Enquête « L’innovation au sein des PME, édition 2022« , Le Baromètre de l’innovation du Québec, 2022.