In October 2019 a professional goal was realized. Through ALIGN’s Leadership Bursary I was privileged to be among 24 learners that attended a workshop in Boston co-led by Peter Senge. 

In a context setting session, Senge who has been one of the teachers on my leadership journey, referenced the three legged stool as an image for collaborative leadership. Collaboration, aspiration (vision) and understanding complexity are the three legs that must be personally mastered to be a systems leader.  

Collaboration is measured by the quality of relationships an individual can create, it’s about trust and how we listen for meaning. Collaboration is happening when there is an energy at the individual and the group (collective) level, when there is ceremony and interconnectedness. Collaboration is successful when there is a genuine openness to others perspective.

Aspiration, the second leg of the stool, is about co-creating and bringing your personal, organization or community initiatives vision into existence.  Aspiration is about hope, belief, and courage. Aspiration is linked intrinsity to your reason for leadership.

The third leg is understanding complexity.  This, Senge explained, is about cause and effect that are not closely linked in time, archetypes, leverage points and interdependency.  Understanding complexity is a willingness to look at one’s mental models by deconstructing and understanding them so that the systemic changes desired can be attained.   

What does it take to create systems leadership? The capacity to create quality relationships, a connection, to be genuine and vulnerable. To be able to hear that your mental models are only constructs of reality, not reality.  It’s someone  that has mastered the three skills outline here. Someone that can create a space where there are no barriers to collaboration for systems change.

If you, your team, your organization or your community initiative wants to build collaborative leadership capacity let’s connect for a coffee.