Developing Collaborative Leadership

Whether you’re an entrepreneur in the start-up phase or the CEO of a mature business, it’s the right time to pay attention to the culture of your enterprise.

Yesterday (October 8, 2009) Mary Stacey of Context Management Consulting Inc. with the Kingbridge Collaboration Institute delivered the first of a 2 part series dedicated to collaborative leadership at MaRS Discovery District.  Drawing from Torbert and Rooke’s award winning article The Seven Transformations of Leadership (Harvard Business Review, 2005), the attendees explored their own leadership methods and the potential for evolution towards a more collaborative style.

According to Torbert and Rooke there are 7 key ‘Action Logics’ or categories that define “how a leader interprets their surroundings and reacts when their power or safety is challenged'”(Torbert & Rooke, 2005).  Rather than being autonomous groups however Torbert and Rooke propose that there is a developmental progression from the least ‘effective’ style to the most ‘effective’.  So, the style you fall into when you begin your leadership development journey can evolve with time, practice, and changes in your external environment.  Great news for those leaders trying to figure out how to transform themselves and their organizations!

One example of leadership progression cited in the Torbert & Rooke article is that of Larry Ellison (now CEO of Oracle).  At the start of his career Ellison was at the bottom of the leadership development spectrum as an ‘Opportunist’ where he lead by ridiculing and out-witting his team.  Few opportunists can sustain leadership roles for long as their style leads to high turnover and the absence of respect from their employees.  No doubt after experiencing some of these repercussions Ellison was able to recognize his own need for development and began his journey towards the well evolved leader he is today.

The workshop explored the identification of ‘Action Logics’ and the characteristics of each as well as the potential for progression along the continuum.  The next session ‘Leading in a Collaborative Culture’ scheduled for December 3, 2009 at MaRS will address the question ‘Now that I am here, what do I do now?” With discussions around cultivating cultural intelligence and collaborative inquiry, leaders and future leaders will gain insight on the connection between your leadership and the culture of your organization.

For more information on the series or the ‘Action Logic’ framework please contact