Leadership as a collective achievement

kerrygrace-2014 Inspiring your community, Leading change

For many years I’ve argued for the importance of collaborative relationships in social change – well, in any context really.

While there is usually a lot of head nodding, the formation of true and productive collaborative relationships is certainly another challenge.

The paper, Building Bridges from the Margins, Ospina and Foldy (2010) – bear with me as I get my head around proper referencing┬áprovides some insight around the reasons for and nature of collective leadership.

The following insights were informed and inspired by this paper.

First, let’s consider why collective leadership is important in creating social change:

  1. We live and work in a dynamic and changing environment (multiple and diverse views count)
  2. It’s pretty difficult to create change beyond your jurisdiction. This is particularly important in the implication of social change.
  3. My own experience has also clearly identified that leaders can burn out and with that the momentum of projects and initiatives can also disappear.

So what are the leadership practices that enable a collaborative framework?

The Ospina and Foldy paper identifies five leadership practices which enable collaborative work:

  1. Prompting cognitive shifts;
  2. Naming and shaping identity;
  3. Engaging dialogue about difference;
  4. Creating equitable governance mechanisms; and
  5. Weaving multiple worlds together through interpersonal relationships

Stay tuned, I’m still reading…



Ospina S and Foldy E, Building bridges from the margins: The work of leadership in social change
organizations, The Leadership Quarterly, 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2 Pages 292-307