Blog about Working in Uncertainty: November 2022

By Team Lead Janet Whitley

It is over 12 years since I joined Scottish Government, on a secondment from a career in Higher Education where it was clear to me that I needed a change.  I didn’t really know what was going to come of it, and certainly never imagined that I would be here all these years later. 

Over much of this time I have been leading multi-sector work on the development of skills for collaboration.  This originated in work to implement the workforce development elements of the Christie Commission and has developed over time to become Collective Leadership for Scotland, with a relentless focus on developing the practices for Collective Leadership that offer the possibility for different outcomes.

Collective Leadership for Scotland, has attempted to operate as a collective, drawing in colleagues and partners from right across our wider system to connect and learn together.  It has been an immense privilege to be part of this wider movement for transformation.  I hugely value all of the colleagues, partners, organisations and communities who have stepped in to be part of this work over the years, including the very many thousands of people who have participated and engaged in our learning, events and festivals.

Yellow-leafed tree in the middle of other autumn-coloured trees.

I would also like to express my sincere thanks to all of the members of the Collective Leadership for Scotland team who have been alongside me at the centre of this work over the years and have enabled it all to happen.  We have often joked about our “Kaftans of Weirdness” as a recognition of the need to be bold, creative and different in this work to enable the possibility of different outcomes.  It is always a judgement of how far to go.

One of the core aspects of Collective Leadership is to find ways to become more comfortable with uncertainty, enabling a collective future to emerge.  As we experience our own spell of uncertainty about the future of the Collective Leadership for Scotland work, I find that I am drawing more and more upon many of the practices that we have learned about together, seeking to be present for other people, enabling opportunities to pause and reflect so that something different can happen.

It is great to read the following words in our most recent Evaluation of Impact Report:

“Collective Leadership for Scotland contributes to building a critical mass for system change, to help to sustain the ambitions of the Christie Commission and the delivery of the National Outcomes for Scotland.”

Working through these times of major disruption, where the pressures for rapid delivery can feel almost overwhelming for many colleagues, the parallel need and potential for Collective Leadership feels extraordinarily pressing. 

I look forward to the next chapter of this work, however it may show up.

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