“Transforming Our World” through Collective Leadership

The Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG17,  have made it even clearer that in order to address global challenges, the joint capacity of leaders to become catalysts for change is called for. Collective leadership is one of the cornerstone of our response to the global sustainability challenges, irrespective of whether we are creating responsible supply chains, developing innovative technology for climate adaptation, or engaging stakeholders for better water resource management.

It was Peter Senge who drew attention to the essence of leadership, which, in his view is “…about learning how to shape the future. Leadership exists when people are no longer victims of circumstances, but participate in creating new circumstances.”

For a long time, leadership has been looked at as the capacity of individuals but it is time to shift this paradigm and explore leadership as the capacity of a collective – be it a team, the core group of a multi-stakeholder collaboration initiative, or the senior leadership group of a corporation.

Peter Senge also hinted at this important paradigm shift when he said that leadership “is the capacity of a human community to shape its future and specifically to sustain the significant processes of change required to do so.”  Otto Scharmer further developed this underlying idea into his approach of the Theory U, which is essentially built on the capacity of a group of people to change their structure of attention and subsequently their collective pattern of thought and action. As individuals and teams carry more and more responsibility in complex multi-actor change initiatives, this capacity to become constructively co-creative grows in importance.


The Collective Leadership Compass functions as a roadmap to a new structure of attention – on the individual level, the level of a team and organization, or the larger collaborative system most multi-stakeholder partnerships operate in. It creates a conscious connection between leadership as an individual task and a collective task – the conscious co-creation of new realities.

Multi-stakeholder collaborations create learning advantages, for the public sector as much as for the private sector. They also remind us of a simple fact that people jointly create the future. Yet people differ as their assumptions and experiences are formed by culture, knowledge, theories, practices as well as their particular way of seeing reality. The Collective Leadership Compass helps to humanize our global change efforts, while it also ensures that we keep driving progress.

This blog post looks at the Collective Leadership Compass as a whole and here specifically at the level of collectiveleadership skills for transformative change.  For more insights on leading collectively with the Compass, subscribe to my blog. For more information on the Art of Leading Collectively, checkout the inside the book and  reviews on amazon.com, or get inspired by an onsite course that takes the compass into the daily challenges of navigating complex change


Categories: Living the six capacities of Collective Leadership.

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