Who we are

Who is behind Collective Leadership for Scotland?

Collective Leadership Scotland are a collaborative partnership which reaches right across public services, with a small core team based within The Scottish Government, currently comprised of:

  • Janet Whitley, Collective Leadership Team Lead
  • Karen Lawson, Collaborative Learning Lead and Chief Fire-Starter
  • Keira Oliver, Collective Leadership Research and Evaluation Lead & u.lab Scotland
  • Dot McLaughlin, Collective Leadership Programme Manager
  • Verena Albrecht, Communications, Engagement and Events Manager
  • Conor James, Collective Leadership Administrator

Our Collaborative Partnership Network

The Collective Leadership Steering Group

The Collective Leadership Strategic Steering Group includes colleagues with a range of interests across sectors and organisations with the role of:

  • Offering advice and capacity to develop and implement our strategy
  • Identifying opportunities for connectivity and synergy across sectors and organisations
  • Working together on the strategic positioning of our work
  • Identifying opportunities to connect well with the SLF
  • Regularly reviewing progress with all strands of the strategy.

The slide below illustrates the breadth of the membership of the Strategic Steering Group, enabling a broad perspective on leadership development activity across Scotland and a diversity of perspectives to energise and bring challenge to our work.

The Core Development Team

The Core Development Team sits at the heart of our Collective Leadership for Scotland work. All members of the team have responsibility for leading particular strands of our work and, in doing this, we seek to operate as a collective, trying out and learning about working collectively as we progress our work.  The team hosts and co-ordinates our developmental activity and takes a lead on strategic development, research and evaluation.  The team also undertakes communication and engagement activity, oversees the preparation of publications and resources and the logistical arrangement to underpin all of this.  In all that we do, we seek to make connections with our partners and share resources and capacity.

The Facilitation Team

From the very early stages, our work has highlighted the importance of skilled facilitation to support the development of Collective Leadership in teams working on complex issues.  Without this, despite good intent and perhaps a good understanding of the core characteristics of Collective Leadership, we are aware that the tendency to be pulled by to familiar ways of working runs quite high.  We have therefore invested significantly in the development of facilitation and have a growing community of colleagues who have completed our Facilitation Development Programme and who are becoming active in supporting Collective Leadership work in a whole variety of different ways.

The Participants in Development Events and Activities

As far as possible we aim to make our development activities available and accessible very widely across our public services, issuing open invitations to participate in our work and actively seeking to bring together diverse learning communities. 

Our Collective Leadership Community

Over the course of the last year it feels like there has been an important transition in our work, moving from our initial model of Collective Leadership, supporting teams to work on complex issues in their localities, to one which is far more embedded in important strategic priorities for Scotland, with a growing sense of community and shared purpose around these.

Working with complex systems is often messy, difficult and unpredictable, so finding ways to draw together and unite with colleagues from different parts of the system and find ways to work together on what is important has always been a central component of our work.  I also recognise it is a part of our work which I really relish, finding ways  to bring together our Collective Leadership family. 

This was brought home powerfully to me when hosted an event with Margaret Wheatley in the Autumn of 2019.  The room was filled with around 150 people from all different roles and places in our system,  with a shared wish to do something different to support better outcomes for the people of Scotland.  This really felt like our Collective Leadership community.  It also felt powerful and ready to take action.  The phrase: “For we are the ones we have been waiting for”  – from the poem in Margaret Wheatley’s book on Perseverance, from the Elders of the Hopi Nation, was prominent on the posters pasted around the walls of the room and also prominent in many of the conversations taking place.

The Collaboration and Transformation Partners

Building a sense of community around Collective Leadership is something that takes time and deliberate nurturing and I have often tried to imagine new and different ways to draw together colleagues from different parts of public services to develop our work.  An example of some deliberate action over the last year is the formation of our community of Collaboration and Transformation Partners. 

With a growing interest in Collective Leadership, it seemed important to introduce some greater structure around our collective capacity and, as is often the way, a conversation with a colleague gave rise to the idea of openly recruiting Collaboration and Transformation partners to contribute to our Collective Leadership work.  These roles were envisaged for people who would remain employed by their current organisation, but who would create the possibility to contribute capacity, for example time, expertise, hosting, offers of support from wider team members, to Collective Leadership work. 

By January 2019 we had formed a group of Collaboration and Transformation Partners who were meeting regularly together and spotting new and shared opportunities for work that could make a difference.  Many colleagues who had a prior connection of some sort to our work were drawn into these roles, but the open invitation had the additional benefit of drawing in some new partners, offering new developmental opportunities.

The work of the Collaboration and Transformation partners has progressed over the year with a number of prominent new partnerships and developments emerging from this group, including the Hosting and Facilitating Good Conversations programme which is proving very popular and is being offered regularly in localities across Scotland.

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