Kasper Rorsted



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There’s more to collaboration than diplomacy and contribution. Collaborative leaders know how to address tough topics, too.

The word ‘collaboration’ conjures images of being kind, helpful and considerate to others, appreciating other people’s contributions and building on them; basically, being a good leader and a team member, but it’s only half the truth.

Collaboration in a leadership context also has a hard edge: putting the needs of others ahead of your own even if your own target is compromised.

Most teams might not be ready to talk about this side of collaboration and the corresponding behaviors. It requires a certain level of discipline and grit from leaders. But if you learn to combine the soft and hard facets of collaboration, an essential skill for a balanced leadership style, you’ll build productive, lasting business relationships.

Kasper Rorsted is presenting on stage.

Tough issues will arise – it’s only a question of when. The stronger the relationship, the easier it is for a leader to have challenging conversations with the team. It won’t change the rules of the game: Everyone will play as one team to reach one goal.

Good leaders clarify goals

You and your team are part of a bigger ecosystem with a shared goal. If you watch small kids play football, you’ll notice they are all chasing the ball at the same time. The game tends to be slow. The kids aren’t playing their positions – they’re playing the ball, and having fun.

Watch a national team play at the World Cup and you’ll notice each player stays in position, knows their role, and is constantly aware of their team mates. If they don’t, the manager will make the decision to substitute them so the goal isn’t compromised.

When you’re clear on the roles and responsibilities of each team member, all you have to do is stick to the plan. Trust your players to know their roles, master their own position, and follow the game plan.

adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted is meeting with two colleagues at a black table.

A thoughtful leader makes decisions with others

Informed decisions are made in a transparent manner. Always be ready to share your logic and thinking with other people. Only by welcoming other people’s ideas can you evolve your creative and critical thinking. Don’t scheme in the dark.

If you’re transparent about your work and goals as a leader, then people can understand and contribute to them. True collaboration means getting other people involved in decision making to drive the best possible outcome.

Relationships are the foundation of leadership

The value of any organization comes from its relationships. It’s everyone’s responsibility – not just that of leaders – to build and nurture productive relationships.

Did you meet someone new this week? How will you stay in touch and deepen the connection? By proactively seeking out and working on new relationships you will promote diverse thinking and encourage creativity in your team, while learning and growing as a leader.

The formula is the same as with any relationship, business or personal: Stay in touch, exchange thoughts and ideas, give and take to build trust. Essentially, talk a lot, but listen more.

Kasper Rorsted is meeting adidas employees for a coffee talk.

Collaboration Checklist for Leaders

Collaboration in the traditional sense means being a good leader and a team member. But it also has a hard edge: putting the needs of others ahead of your own. By combining the two facets, you’ll build lasting business relationships and find tough issues easier to tackle.

  • Establish clear shared goals, trust your players to know their roles, and stick to the game plan.

  • Provide transparency. Share your thinking and logic with others, and involve them in decision making.

  • Build and nurture productive relationships, the backbone of every winning organization.


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by Frank 12.07.2018
There’s so much truth in this - especially the part about the hard edge of collaboration: “putting the needs of others ahead of your own even if your own target is compromised”...this is the essence of not having a personal agenda but looking at what benefits the company most, looking at the big picture.
Also love the Wallpapers at the end of the story.
by John Sparks 12.07.2018
This was a great piece on collaboration. To further the concept it would be interesting to observe in what ways we can improve our work functions or job designs to be more naturally collaborative.
by Joseph Carroll 17.07.2018
Thank you, well spoken.
by M. Lu 27.07.2018
Great speech about collaboration, the example of coach clarified the truth of the role of a leader in collaboration, "...he gave our team everybody individual advice along with bringing the team together..." Each team member has his or her own advantage and personality, good leader will bring different individuals together to target the same goal
by Jamela Laurico 24.01.2020
A well guided thought on collaboration, explained with clarity that any leader can put into use to improve his/her behavior towards the team for more gains in the business and winning moments to celebrate as a team.
by Kasun Raigama 15.11.2021
An insightful read full of interesting analogies. Just wanted to share my appreciation for the specific adidas team who makes these articles - it really helps with getting to know the company as a team who makes more than just performance wear.
by Joel Gopfert Pinto Junior 13.02.2022

The leadership and collaboration that Adidas demonstrates through people is inspiring
I dare say that it is a Positive Leadership, as it is inspired by Positive Thoughts, Engagement in Actions, Relationships, Meaning above simple doing, and Results


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