Beyond the change in mindset and the deep convictions that come with it, we observed that ecosystem leaders were good at what we call collaborative leadership This requires four capabilities:
An ability to listen, both to those within your organisation and to the weak signals and messages that come from outside your organisation. Listening does not come easily to leaders, but listening to these weak signals is even more difficult. But you need to develop a capability to pick up the weak signals that your partners express.
Adapting or encouraging and nudging the ecosystem to respond flexibly to uncertainty. Very often you don’t have real authority over your partners and you need to nudge them to contribute to the innovation required to cope with uncertainty
As you have no real authority over the partners in the ecosystem you will need all your skills to influence them, or to deploy soft power that finds its source in your vision, your credibility as an ecosystem leader, and the respect that your partners have for you. Jack Ma from Alibaba is a great example of a leader who is excellent at influencing.
And finally you need to resolutely commit yourself to collaboration, or getting things done through a community of peers, rather than through command and control.
BEYOND COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP
The other characteristics that effective leaders of an ecosystem have developed are:
They know how to lead beyond the boundaries of their own organisation. Again the respect they command and their charisma enables them to be accepted as a natural leader by their partners.
They have the ability to build consensus and ensure that a wide group of peers take ownership of most of the decisions you will make as an ecosystem leader
They are agile and active networkers, who become a trusted source of knowledge and information that others in the ecosystem haven’t spotted yet.
And they are the ultimate example of an ambidextrous leader, one who is able to embrace diversity and dilemma’s, while at the same time develop an overarching identity and goal for the ecosystem.