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Effective Advocacy: Build Leadership

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People in Western countries often envision leaders as charismatic take-charge whirlwinds who hold the power, the authority, and the answers, and lead the rest of us toward success.

But in our complex society with complex problems, the hierarchical model of a single person leading the way often isn’t the most effective.

Collective leadership (also called collaborative leadership) focuses on everyone working together and being responsible for achieving the desired goal.

Collective leadership includes:

  • A systems lens
  • Shared responsibility, power, and decision-making
  • Mutual accountability
  • Authentic engagement
  • Diverse skills and perspectives
  • Leadership of the process rather than of people

Collective leadership can lead to better and faster decisions, higher productivity, stronger and sustainable commitment and motivation, and greater inclusion.

It also can take more time, requires the ability and willingness to deal with conflict, and calls for people to subvert their egos and trust others.

Community Tool Box offers a great overview of collective leadership and how to practice it.



Collaborative Leadership” by Community Tool Box
Five Elements of Collective Leadership” by Nonprofit Quarterly


For more information about building leadership skills, see:

The Collective Leadership Framework: A Workbook for Cultivating and Sustaining Community Change by W. W. Kellogg Foundation
Leadership Learning Community


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