Collaborative Leadership

Are you a leader or a follower?  You’re BOTH!

photo courtesy – Dewin Anguas Barnette

(Excerpt from “Creatively Independent: Life on Your Terms with Play, Community, and Awareness”)

A flock of birds alters leaders without board meetings or memos. The elements of nature take their turns reshaping the globe. We can do the same. We just have to commit to two things: know what we personally offer the ensemble (See Ownership) and have the sensitivity to know what the moment needs (See Awareness).

Imagine you’re in a clump of people, a tight ensemble, all standing close enough to touch. You happen to be in front, leading. You and the ensemble start walking. You encounter a wall, but you don’t walk into it, right? No, you turn to face the open space, and the ensemble follows. But now, someone new is in front. This person has become the leader. The change happened naturally because of how all of you organically responded to your environment.

You have just naturally—without need for voting, negotiations or blueprints—played in the world of collaborative leadership.

The rhythm of

collaborative leadership

is a remix.

It is a deftly interwoven groove

of play, intention, ownership,

awareness and commitment.

I used to think I had to stand behind the best person in the room and attempt to “steal” everything that person knew, modeling myself in that light. This was bold advice given to me by a passionate teacher. And, in a way, he was absolutely right.

But in collaborative leadership, as I learned experientially over the years, everyone is the best at whatever he or she understands. What I understand is tapped in to what I am aware of, what I can see, feel, and (sometimes) anticipate. This is the horizon on which I am focused.

Sometimes, I’m not the one who can see, understand, or anticipate what’s ahead. But I can feel my intention and the ensemble’s physical and intentional presence. And with that understanding of collaborative leadership, engaging trust, connection and awareness, we run together at break-neck speed towards the horizon.

If you feel the wind shift, and the path opens up so you can see clearer skies ahead… take the lead.

Try it. It’s fun.



“Mom, Manifesto’s Playing in Traffic Again”


  • Which role do you tend to play, leader or follower?
  • Is your role consistent or does it depend on the dynamics of the group or situation?
  • If it’s changeable, get specific about the situations in which you feel comfortable taking the role of leader and those in which you take the role of follower.
  • How does it feel when that role isn’t available to you?
  • Can you recall recent circumstances where you had to impromptu lead? If so, how did that turn out?
  • How did it feel, physically, mentally and emotionally?
  • Can you recall recent circumstances where you had to follow someone you weren’t comfortable following?
  • How did that turn out?
  • How did it feel, physically, mentally and emotionally?
  • How does it feel to ask yourself these questions?

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