- Who We Are
- What We Do
- Who We Work With
- Our Stories
- Training and Consulting
- News and Events
- Activities, Toolkits and Reports
- Online Communities
- Current Initiatives
- Contact Us
Collective leadership is an emerging approach to leadership development that received national attention as the focus of a multi-year foundation initiative led by IC staff and partners. Collective leadership occurs when people come together and mobilize human, cultural, and technological resources in ways that improve their communities for the common good. It is an inherently inclusive approach to leadership because it asks individuals to cross boundaries of all types –such as age, income, religion, and culture – as they commit to bidirectional learning, joint action, shared responsibility, and mutual accountability. Collective leadership represents a shift away from an exclusive focus on individual change agents and highlights the importance of more collaborative approaches.
Principles: Collective leadership is organized around a set of core principles: it is a relational approach where multiple individuals assume leadership roles within a group while the entire group provides leadership to the wider community; it is a fluid approach that evolves in response to specific situations and settings; and it is a transformational approach rooted in a commitment to social justice.
Stages: These guiding principles are enacted as leaders move through the four stages of community development: get ready, plan, implement, and sustain. The first stage, building readiness, lays the foundation for all future work. It involves building relationships with and among community partners and managing the logistical tasks associated with a new effort. The planning phase begins with visioning as leaders agree on their desired goals and articulate methods for achieving them. During the implementation stage, they work together to turn these plans into a reality. And sustaining the work calls for robust strategies and partnerships to ensure long-term impact.
Practices: At each stage of the process, leaders focus their attention and energy on five practices: (1) foster youth-adult partnerships, (2) mobilize community assets, (3) tap into individual gifts, (4) build teamwork, and (5) reflect and learn. These elements lie at the heart of the collective leadership approach and inform hands-on, practical work in the community.
Interested in implementing collective leadership in your own organization or community? Our toolkit, Collective Leadership Works, is a free and easy-to-use resource that will guide your work. Browse our Knowledge Well for tips and activities related to each of the principles and stages of the collective leadership process. Also, learn about one of the IC's current initiatives that uses collective leadership to bolster service-learning in three communities across the United States.