Transactional Leadership | Part 5 | Contribute vs. Collaborate

by  Chad Balthrop  |  Leadership Development

Today we’ll wrap up this series on the differences between Transactional Leadership and Servant Leadership. We’ve seen 4 words to disrupt our leadership foundation. These four words are: Respect, Serve, Trust, and Collaborate. We’ve compared these 4 words of Servant Leadership to four comparable words of Transactional Leadership. Let’s take a look at the difference between:

Contribute vs. Collaborate

The Transactional leader is looking for contributors. Another word for contributor is ‘producer’. Contribute something to the project, the company, the team or find yourself in search of a new job. The need to make a contribution drives some to be back-stabbing, cold-hearted corporate climbers. While others simply settle in to lower circles of responsibility, their contributions limited to the minimum required amount of effort necessary to provide value to the team. Transactional leaders search for contributors the way entrepreneurs search for venture capitalists. What do you bring to the table? How can you bring more satisfied customers, design a better product or provide a better service? If louder, faster, higher is the mantra of the trumpet player, bigger, faster, better is the mantra of the Transactional Leader. There’s always one more sale to make, one more quota to break. Contribute or die and if you contribute the most we’ll give you a fancy gold watch!

Collaboration is different from contribution. Collaboration starts with the premise that I don’t know it all and I don’t have to. Collaboration relies on the fact that there are some things I’m naturally good at and other things I don’t do well at all. Collaboration is the art of working with others. It’s what happens when I have enough respect for someone else that we’re able to serve one another. This builds the trust we need to collaborate on any project. I trust that in those seasons I am weak, you’ll be strong, when you’re weak I’ll be strong. Collaboration and cooperation go hand in hand. The respect on which collaboration is based allows us to see that any individual in the organization can make a difference regardless of position, title or job function. Collaboration is the leveraged strength of every member of a team.

I’ve heard it said that the difference between a winner and a champion is that a winner may win the game, but a champion wins consistently. Think of this year’s Super Bowl champs. They became champions by winning consistently. They didn’t win consistently because one player or one coach made a winning contribution to the team. They won because every player worked together to shape the team into the champions they became.

Put simply, contribution is how one individual adds value to the team. Collaboration is the leveraged power of the team to fulfill the vision.

Four words. Four words to disrupt our leadership foundation.

Respect | Serve | Trust | Collaborate

These four words can transform the leader inside of you. They can shape you and your team into an irresistible force that will leave a lasting and sustainable impact on the world around you.

Don’t settle for simply pointing the way. Serve well those who have been entrusted to you and lead where you are.

God bless,

About The Author

Articles By chad-balthrop
Husband and father of four, Chad Balthrop has served Owasso’s First Baptist Church since 2002. As Executive Pastor he oversees strategic development for staff and volunteer leaders as well as campus and finance.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Michael Sampson  |  06 Mar 2011  |  Reply

Thanks Chad … good to read your thinking above. My response / comments are here,


Ken Otter  |  07 Mar 2011  |  Reply

This is my first look at this series contrasting transactional and servant leadership. Nicely done!
I like how you have articulated a very needed and important shift just by using these four words. It is a good example of articulating the “simplicity on the other side of complexity.” In other words, while such a shift seems simple, it reflects the necessary values and competencies today’s complex world requires.

And the implications of making such a shift are profound. In my experience, the invitation and attention to these higher order values in leadership in the context of organizational life require deep changes at the individual and collective level. Moreover, they suggest new ways of defining and describing leadership. In my view to enact respect, serve, trust, collaborate disrupts by recognizing that leadership transcends roles and positions to be an inherent part of any intentional social process. People enact leadership when working together (leading and following in service of making progress on the meaning work to be done).

Designated leaders, whether appointed, anointed or elected, participate in the leadership process and dynamic too, but their contribution as “leader” is best viewed as helping to create the conditions so that leadership can emerge. So what you suggest is profound not only for the important work to be done, but also for making sense of leadership as a creative and generative of any social network.

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