Publications & other Resources

Our Collective Leadership work is influenced by a range of theories around systems leadership. Systems leadership is about leading across boundaries and in ways that influence others, to use people’s energies and expertise as well as possible to work through intractable problems. The resources below are intended to provide further resources and research that helps to shape and guide our approach. These
resources can be accessed through clicking the hyperlinks below.

Please note, this will take you to an external website. We do not offer these resources for direct download from our website.

Our Publications

Have a look at our interactive 'provocative propositions' cards

As a practical tool, these provocations might be used with a group in the earliest stages, perhaps establishing a bespoke set of values and principles of how they wish to work together, in their collective leadership.

How do we know we are doing good work? Conversations about the impact of our collective leadership (Impact Report, September 2022)

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 in September – November 2022, this report presents the final review of evidence of the impact of Collective Leadership for Scotland programmes.  

How do we know we are doing good work? (Short Summary Report, 2022)

This 2-page summary report provides an executive summary of our newest impact report ‘How do we know we are doing good work’, published in September 2022. You can read and download the summary report via the buttons to the right. 

Police Scotland and Local Government Collaborative Leadership Pilots – Evaluation (March 2022)

Authored by Dr Kristy Docherty and Brigid Russell, this report presents the findings of the evaluation of the Police Scotland
and Local Government Collaborative Leadership Pilots. This evaluation has been undertaken independently by Dr Kristy Docherty and Brigid Russell on behalf of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) between August 2021 and February 2022. 

Life-Affirming Leadership Report 2021

The report ‘Life-Affirming Leadership: Developing the Skills of Insight and Compassion’ (October, 2021) reflects on our collaborative work with Margaret Wheatley. This includes an overview of the learning activities and events, that have taken place, as well as participant reflections and learnings. 

2020 Progress Report

Our second progress report was due in March 2020. However, since March 2020 we, like the rest of the country, rapidly found ourselves working in different spaces and with changing priorities as a result of the pandemic. Learning to work when the situation is unknown while connecting and supporting each other became more important than ever. As the unprecedented events with COVID have significantly changed how and what we offer now and for the foreseeable future, it would feel wrong not to include the period up to summer 2020 in this report. Therefore, the purpose of this document is to review the progress Collective Leadership for Scotland has made between March 2019 and July 2020.

Collective Leadership Brochure 2020

Our newly updated Collective Leadership Brocure, ‘Building Capacity for Collective Leadership’ (November 2020) offers a more in-depth look at the background and need for collective work. This is a particularly useful resource for anyone thinking about or considering Collective Leadership practices.

Writing Sprint 2019

‘Power in Beginnings’ (2019) was developed during a three-day writing sprint. It outlines our work, and some of the challenges and sensitivities that are emerging. It also gives insight into, and information about, using writing sprint methods to write together to make sense of vast and complex topics.

2019 Annual Report

Our first Collective Leadership Annual Report (2019) charts our approaches to build capacity for leadership that tackle systematic issues beyond the traditional hierarchies. It explores where our work started, and our site-based approaches, facilitation leadership, and community building.

Research Paper 2018

Our Collective Leadership paper, authored by Cathy Sharp (2018), reviews some of the interrelated concepts that underpin Collective Leadership and public service reform, through embedding action inquiry. Action Inquiry is not prescriptive process, but it is about conducting action and inquiry as a leadership practice, that increases the effectiveness of actions now. Here, Sharp offers a way of understanding how we might practice change in environments where nothing is clear.

Dialogue Walk Card

Our Dialogue Walk cards provide handy guidance for those interested in doing Dialogue Walks. They offer information of the levels of listening and suggestion for the potential execution of the Dialogue Walk.

Working Slowly in Working Together

Drawing from, and inspired by, literature and practices of slowing, our approach within Collective Leadership attends to more careful and deliberative ways of working. There are times in responding to crises that we all need to act urgently and rapidly. But this cannot be done without reflecting and thinking about what is needed, by whom, and by what is already there. This piece offers an invitation to think more slowly.

Our Monthly Newsletters

Our monthly newsletters inform you about upcoming events, learning opportunities and partner offers. You can access all of our previous newsletter via the link to the right, as well as subscribe to be the first one to learn about new offers.

Collective Leadership Practice:
Where to Start (Workshop Slides)

Slidedeck in Powerpoint format relating to our workshop ‘Collective Leadership Practice: Where to Start’. 

Wider Resources

Human Learning Systems (HLS) is a radically new way of doing public management: the task of resourcing and organising public service. Read their 2021 e-book.

Human Learning Systems (HLS) have published a case study looks at our team’s response to supporting leaders and others across public services during the early months of COVID-19. 


Senge, Hamilton & Kanja (2015) explore the importance and core capabilities of systems leadership.

For many years, both in the development of the Collective Leadership approach and its predecessor, Pioneering Collaborative Leadership, Keith Grint’s writing has been influential. His work on framing different kinds of issues (Critical, Tame, Wicked) and therefore adopting different kinds of leadership response is a key frame for our work. We deliberately situate Collective Leadership to facilitate leaders to work collectively and inquiringly on complex, wicked issues. His original paper “Wicked Problems and Clumsy Solutions: the Role of Leadership” is on our website. We are pleased to add a recent paper which applies this thinking to leadership within the current context of the Covid crisis. It provides a timely reminder that all these types of leadership response are currently playing out.

Keith Grint (2008) discusses the value of systems leadership through the division of tame (complicated, but resolvable problems), and wicked problems (intractable problems, which cannot be separated from the environment, and which require relationships, reflections, and working with others).

Ringer (1999) discusses facilitation, from the roles that facilitators play in offering stability and structure, to the links and interconnections between individuals with, and within, the group.

Otto Scharmer’s ‘Theory U’ models a way of breaking through unproductive behaviour patterns, developing more affective decision making that is empathetic to others. It is modelled around a five-part ‘U Process of Co-sensing and Co-creating’.

Casey et al (1992) outline a three-step process of group facilitation. First, the facilitator needs to take in what goes on in the group. Second, they make sense of this, using theories and models. Third, they decide on something to help through an ‘intervention’, moving from introspection to communicating. As they argue, this process in practice is more complicated than it, at first glance, seem.

Golman-Schuyler (2017) explore how awareness and mindfulness practices are important in developing adaptive leadership that has the ability and flexibility to work in times like these.

In this piece, Wendy Wood (2014) offers an overview of mindfulness, and very usefully explains the difference between mindfulness and mediatation. She also addresses the topic of meditation at work: managing overload.

In this paper Raelin (2020) examines the possibility that that hierarchy and democratic leadership are predominantly incommensurate and that closer inspection would show that hierarchical conditions largely persist and that when democratic leadership occurs, it does so only with the conditional permission of those in control. Raelin offers detail regarding the plural models of leadership, shows where they fall on the hierarchy-democracy continuum, and outlines how leaderful development might be able to prepare learners for real democratic experience.

In this paper, Raelin (2018) attempts to cite the advantages of collective leadership while acknowledging the objections and fears of challengers. Collective leadership is seen as remote because it defies the traditional view of leadership as an individualistic attractive quality that not only protects us but is efficient when applied. Nevertheless, the collective alternative may not only be advisable but required in a connected world featuring a networked economy. 

More resources on Mindfulness can be found on our separate Mindfulness Resources page, which we have released in connection with our ‘Stable Mind’ weeks as part of the ‘One Thing at a Time‘ Programme.