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2012 Webinar: Going After Big Results: A Different Take on Leadership Development | Follow-Up Blog with Jolie Bain Pillsbury

SCI Triangle

By: Jolie Bain Pillsbury of Sherbrooke Consulting, Inc

I wanted to follow up on two related issues touched on during the webinar: “Going After Big Results: A Different Take on Leadership Development”.  The two related issues are that of the development of sustainable collaborative relationships and the development of collaborative leadership.  The two are related in the following way: collaborative leadership is not a solitary act.  It only exists in the context of a group of leaders in relationship with each other and is an “emergent” property of the group. Collaborative leadership skills create the capacity for the leaders to form relationships across boundaries for the purpose of making a difference.


Taking action together in a non-hierarchical context provides the experiences that enable groups of leaders to form the types of relationships that make collaborative leadership possible. For example, when implementing strategies where leaders in different sectors mobilize their respective constituencies, everyone can benefit from discovering and leveraging their differences.  Conversely, when providing peer feedback about how they handle the challenges of their supervisory roles, they benefit from discovering and leveraging their commonalities. In this example, by building relationships where both differences and commonalities are strengths, leaders create the possibility and reality of collaborative leadership.


The power of leaders building relationships that highlight both similarities and differences is highlighted in “Participant or Spectator: Non-profit Engagement in Multi-Sector Collaboratives” by Jennifer Littlefield, Julie O’Brien and Leigh Hersey, presented at the American Society for Public Administration Conference, Baltimore, MD, March, 2011. In this research, collaboratives performed better when there was a higher representation from all sectors and when partnerships occurred both within and across sectors.

Leaders having conversations that build their understanding of each other can catalyze collaborative leadership relationships that maximize both similarities and differences.  One way to structure these conversations is to provide leaders with a way to move into high alignment and high action to achieve a common result. There are specific conversations that contribute to building the relationships of trust and accountability needed for collaborative leadership to emerge.  You can find examples of these conversations in the “Ten Conversations Results Based Leadership Application.”