Dr. Heidi K. Gardner catches up with Dr. Tanvi Gautam to share her latest thinking around effective leadership and collaboration.


Dr. Heidi K. Gardner first connected with Dr. Tanvi Gautam over 20 years ago at an Academy of Management conference; both women share a deep passion for effective collaboration. Here are a few takeaways from their recent LinkedIn Live conversation:

  • Why collaboration: During Dr. Gardner’s time at McKinsey, she was fascinated by how certain teams of experts excelled, while others faltered. She wanted to know the secret sauce for high performance, and the barriers for everyone else. Two challenges quickly became clear: an unhealthy sense of performance pressure and ego clashes.
  • Collaboration in the modern era: Organizations are still grappling with the aftereffects of the pandemic, with trust and smarter collaboration lower than before. The need for collaboration is more critical than ever, yet many struggle to navigate this paradox effectively. One solution is remembering who holds the expertise (and not just the title), and then consulting with them – especially during times of stress.
  • Leadership’s role: Smarter collaboration isn’t about big group hugs: it’s about creating a context in which collaboration thrives. Leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping this environment, establishing pro-collaboration systems and role modeling the right behaviors. Leaders that operate more like “twin 2,” through cultivating and tapping into diverse relationships, end up performing better. Support for healthy friction within collaborations is also key.
  • Scorecards and collaboration: One tool for smarter collaboration is employee scorecards that establish shared goals for tackling big challenges while still holding people accountable for delivering individual results. While the right behaviors, leadership, and strategy are still essential, scorecards are yet another way for companies to achieve their strategic aims.
  • 360-degree collaboration: A 360-degree view of collaborative competencies ensures a holistic understanding of team dynamics. For example, you can see how well people signal their own trustworthiness or balance hands-on and hands-off behavior. Similarly, the use of customized psychometric tools helps leaders understand collaborative preferences and watchout areas.
  • Hybrid collaboration: For hybrid/remote workers in particular, it’s crucial to understand why one’s work is essential and how it contributes to a greater cause. Leaders should also continually bring fun into the workplace to avoid it becoming a grind. And having compassion and grace during tough times is also vital.
  • GenAI as a collaborative partner: Dr. Gardner and her team are researching how to leverage GenAI as a collaborative partner, bringing it into conversations and using it to fill in expertise gaps. For example, asking it for ten compliance implications can enhance the team’s understanding and foster a more collaborative environment.