About Us

Team Update – March 2023

Closure of Collective Leadership for Scotland.

Colleagues and partners will be aware that Collective Leadership for Scotland (CLfS) emerged through the Scottish Leaders Forum after the Christie Commission report in 2011 as a systemic and collaborative approach to develop the skills and capacity for collaboration and collective leadership across public services.

CLfS has operated since that time as a network that builds capacity for collaboration on complex, systemic issues to support public service transformation, led by a small team, funded by and based within Scottish Government.  We have delivered learning and development programmes and festivals with a focus on co-design and co-delivery, reaching around 5,000 participants per year.

Review of Potential for Future Delivery

As we have mentioned previously, towards the end of last year there was a Review of the Future Potential for Collective Leadership, led by Professor Linda Bauld.  The Review Report highlights the benefits of CLfS, including a system convening role, inclusivity, independence and innovation and provides evidence of the huge value of the work, concluding that the issues and challenges it addresses still exist.   The report concludes:

As a final point, we would note that the funding provided to CLfS has been valuable. …..the findings of this review illustrate that CLfS has made a difference. It has benefited those involved, and almost certainly what they learned and how it changed their work will have supported people and communities across Scotland.” 

Programme Closure 

Over the years of delivery of the CLfS work, there has been a recognition of the need to devise a more collective funding model to underpin the work, building from the experience of many partners contributing in kind to the design and delivery of activities.  This situation has been exacerbated as financial pressures have increased and it has become more challenging to sustain Scottish Government funding.

The Review of the Future Potential for Collective Leadership had specific objectives to identify:

  • potential resourcing models that would meet the future needs of the stakeholders in question; and
  • if there is appetite to co-fund the service across the organisations who currently use the existing service.

The Review did not, however, result in a route to enable collective funding for CLfS being found and, with regret, it has been confirmed that SG funding for CLfS will end on 31 March 2023 and all aspects of the work will effectively cease at that point.

Evaluation of Impact 

At this time, it feels timely to reflect upon the reach and impact we have had over the years.  The most recent Evaluation of Impact Report for CLfS can be found here: Collective-Leadership-for-Scotland_Impact-Report_18-November-2022.pdf (collectiveleadershipscotland.com) and concludes:

“Collective Leadership for Scotland (CLfS) participants look for, and gain, fresh thinking, space and time for reflection, connection with others, a chance to think about how to tackle difficulties, and to test out what it takes to do, and continue to do, the work of collaborative public service.”

“This programme of work 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.” 

We can be immensely proud of all that we have achieved over the many years of our collective work.  Part of our legacy is the vast array of colleagues across public services who have contributed and participated in our work over the years and who are embedding what they have learned in their work with people and communities across Scotland.

Concluding Comments

It has been a real pleasure to work with such a vast and diverse range of colleagues and partners through our Collective Leadership work over the years and our shared learning has been much enriched by this level of engagement and participation.  I would like to express my particular thanks to the wonderful, creative and dedicated members of the Collective Leadership for Scotland team, who have been at the heart of all that we have achieved, and to our Strategic Steering Group for their support and participation over the years.

I  hope that many colleagues will continue to derive value from our collective experience to fuel current and future transformation work.  I personally have so many really powerful memories of the work we have done, pushing boundaries, experimenting with new and different approaches and being bold in our offer, drawing upon the very best of our creativity and innovation to make a difference for so many people and communities.

Janet Whitley, Collective Leadership Lead, 13 March 2023

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.

Read the executive summary

View the full report

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 introductory 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