About Us

Team Update - November 2022

The work of Collective Leadership for Scotland has its origins in the Scottish Leaders Forum and the Christie Commission and was established in a collaborative model to specifically develop the skills and capacity for Collective Leadership across public services in Scotland.  It is a sophisticated and systemic intervention into the complex public services environment which seeks to model collective functioning alongside the delivery of a range of programmes to develop the skills, capacity and practices for Collective Leadership.

In recent months a decision has been made to end the current SG funding for this work from March 2023 and a review is currently underway, led by Professor Linda Bauld, to examine the potential for future delivery of Collective Leadership for Scotland.  The review report is due to be finalised by 30 November 2022. As there have already been significant resourcing reductions to the team, we are no longer in a position to continue with our full range of development offers over this time. 

It is hugely rewarding 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 as a collective, with colleagues and partners across public services, this success would not have been possible without the widespread engagement and commitment from across our wider system, for which I am extremely grateful. This work still feels really important, and very much in demand. I hope that we will emerge from the current review with the ability to support the development of Collective Leadership for Scotland in some way. 
Over this time of particular uncertainty, we are continuing to offer our work on Coaching for Systemic Change. 

If you would like to get in touch, please do so at: Janet.Whitley@gov.scot

Complex issues, collective wisdom

The societal issues that many of us are working on cannot be resolved by any organisation or individual working alone. They are systemic and need a collective leadership approach.  We work with groups of people to build the skills to help that to happen.

“At no time in history have we needed […] system leaders more. We face a host of systemic challenges beyond the reach of existing institutions and their hierarchical authority structures. Problems like climate change, destruction of ecosystems, growing scarcity of water, youth unemployment, and embedded poverty and inequity require unprecedented collaboration among different organizations, sectors, and even countries.” 

– Peter Senge, the Dawn of System Leadership

Facilitated by a team in the Scottish Government, Collective Leadership for Scotland is a network of public service colleagues and organisations which collaborates to tackle complex, systemic issues for the transformation of outcomes for individuals and communities. 

We offer distinctive leadership development to individuals and teams who have to work  beyond the boundaries of traditional hierarchies and public institutions. The emphasis is on building capability for leadership which appreciates and engages with the whole system, where openness, learning and the ability to take collective action are at the core. 

This work originated from the Christie Commission report and in particular the themes of collaboration and participation within the report. The principles of co-design and co-delivery sit at the heart of everything that Collective Leadership for Scotland does, gathering together capacity and expertise around key development themes in service of our wider system.

How do we know we are doing good work?
Read our new impact report.

Collective leadership feels timely and important in an uncertain, fast changing, and challenging world. This report comes at this heightened moment of urgency and appetite for renewal, bringing potential to do things differently in public services and communities. Published September – November 2022, this report and its executive summary present the final review of evidence of the impact of Collective Leadership for Scotland programmes.  

Our Aims

Working and leading in times like these requires us to find new approaches to harness the skills and capacity from across our system to address the many complex issues we face. The National Performance Framework provides a compelling case for us to draw together everything we know about how best to work together to deliver deeply inter-related outcomes.
With this in mind, our Collective Leadership for Scotland Strategy was developed through widespread engagement with partners over 2019 and was confirmed around the themes of:

  • Growing our Ability to Work in Complex Systems


  • Building our Capacity for Collective Leadership


  • Sparking Creativity and Innovation


  • Working out Loud and Sharing our Story


  • Connecting the System to More of Itself
The 2020 Collective Leadership for Scotland Strategy Model

What We Do

“Knowing that there are no easy answers to truly complex problems, system leaders cultivate the conditions wherein collective wisdom emerges over time through a ripening process that gradually brings about new ways of thinking, acting, and being.” – Peter Senge

Based on our strategy and aims, our emphasis is on learning and building capacity for leadership which appreciates and engages with the whole system, including the behavioural and relational aspects, and where openness, learning and willingness to take collective action are at the core.

More specifically, our team designs and delivers learning and development activity with our partners to help to equip colleagues to take up their collective, system leadership roles.

These include:

  •  Leadership programmes providing structured inputs and practical experience focusing on systems leadership and facilitation, 
    including i
    ntroductory workshops on understanding and putting systems leadership into practice

  • Festivals of learning around innovation and experimentation in public services, including Fire Starter Festival

  • Providing skilled facilitators to work directly with collective leadership groups tackling real, complex systemic issues over time

  • Building networks of relationships enabling the system to be more joined up and have greater impact

  • Convening conversations and reflective spaces which support self and group reflection

Listen to Team Lead Janet Whitley explain the Concept of Collective Leadership