Collective Leadeship is a Shared and Distributed Activity


“Collective leadership is a “form of leadership based on shared values for achieving impact in the public interest, rather than individual leadership based on self-interest.”

The starting point of reviewing collective leadership is to review the practices of leadership from its collective vision. In the earlier section we looked at what collective leadership is, and how it is practiced. In this final section, we look at how we assess collective leadership. From the starting point of a shared and collective vision we progress through an analysis of the collective leaders shared outcomes and how these differ at the different levels of leadership. The practice (or its Quomodo) is to work in partnership across networks applying intelligent leadership through applied knowledge and the application of skills. The key to success in turning vision into reality is to adapt and respond to new information or intelligence.

Remember always, that twenty-first century leaders lead in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambigious.
Collective leadership is about leading in a different way. The collective is stronger than the individual within, although good actions (as Einstein tells us) can always be traced back to the thoughts and ideas of the individual. The institutional role is to encourage individual creativity, innovation and entrepreneurialism whilst embracing the collective as the glue that binds collaborative efforts together.

Reviewing Leadership


A 3600 Collective Leadership Assessment

The review of leadership is based on seven collective leadership values and 30 underpinning collective leadership behaviours. The aim is to review the impact of integrated and collective leadership across a range of collaborating and cooperating partners. The seven COMPASS360 values are:

  • Collective Vision
  • Outcome Focus
  • Multi-Level Leadership
  • Partnership Working
  • Action Oriented and Adaptive
  • Systems and Structures
  • Skills and Behaviours

The Collective Leadership Inventory and it Rationale

The Collective Leadership Inventory (CLI) is a means by which we can assess the collective nature of leadership through a 360° evaluation. It is grounded in the concept of New Public Leadership (NPL) in which NPL forms the foundation of the collective framework.The COMPASS360 evaluation approach forms the basis of the collective leadership model. This is the operational model that draws on the seven COMPASS leadership values.

The CLI attempts to assess the complexity of leadership and how best to respond to the chaos that inevitably emerges.
There is often a debate in relation to the importance of either agency (behaviour of people) or structure (systems and organisational behaviour) in shaping leadership. The traditional focus for leadership has almost exclusively been on agency rather than structure or systems. Collective leadership reverses this focus whilst still retaining an appropriate balance between the individual, the organisation and its networks.

The online Collective Leadership Inventory (CLI) is available for completion on registration by an organisation and named contact.  The CLI is described in our 5-minute e-learning nugget below. You can register to use the CLI by contacting us [Insert Registration Form link].

Legitimacy and Governance




Governance redefined


To Govern is to exercise Authority over Places, People and Purpose

Governance frameworks incorporate evaluative processes by exploring the impact of management and leadership through mutual accountability and corporate governance. We call this ‘LMG’ (Leadership, Management and Governance).

At the macro level, governance includes continued sovereignty over a nation’s population, being responsible for legislation and regulation and ensuring that both public and private resources provide ethical and effective resources which reflect the public interest

From a societal perspective, beliefs and norms are the seeds of culture.

Accountability and leadership will be perceived as legitimate through debate as well as practice. If debate leads to legitimacy then practice leads to authenticity which itself is a measure as to how well the leadership is accepted by those who are led and those who are impacted by the leadership. Both can only be assessed through effective governance. The relationship between leadership and governance is illustrated in figure 2 by means of legitimacy. Accountability represents the alignment of debate (what we say we do) and practice (what we actually do). If accountability is an outcome of leadership then legitimacy is the outcome of accountability.

Accountability and Responsibility



Accounting for Leadership

As you learned earlier, collective leadership (CL) has increased in influence over the last two decades, with the exponential growth of published academic papers since 2002. In contrast, accountability has been around for much longer and first appears to have been recorded circa 1260, relating to the need to give an account of one’s conduct. Over time, the term has become a catch-all for everything from cost control to professional ethics.

If collective leadership concerns leading in the public interest, then some of the more specific constituents of public value (as part of the overall outcome of public-facing collective leadership) unpin accountability mechanisms.  The illustration above suggests that three components of accountability include (1) substance; what it is that leadership is trying to achieve, (2) satisfying the needs and expectations of stakeholders (the authorising environment) from the Ministerial through to the Community level and (3) the mechanisms and processes of implementation of leadership activities.

Combining Individual and Collective Leadership Assessment

If accountable leadership is to be perceived as legitimate, frameworks should consider both individual and institutional performance, and to explore potential biases – whether conscious or unconscious. Bias, especially unconscious) often emerges and those who are adversely affected struggle to hold the institution accountable for the challenges that they face in socially determined contexts. Two examples are race (from a wider social perspective), and workplace bullying/lateral violence (within the institution).

A review which we carried out of the literature, has identified a highly important component of accountability, but which was considered to be missing within the leadership of teams, that of mutual accountability in which members of successful teams pitch in and become accountable with and to their teammates.


Three Minute Nuggets


Click on each image below to open the E-Learning Nugget

Assessing 360 Compass Leadership Values


Evaluating Collective Leadership

Research-Learning-Practice Cycle

Accounting for Leadership and Responsibility

Responsibility, Duty, Accountability

We need to look at the past before we think about the future. We stand on the shoulders of giants but we should also learn the lessons of the past in recreating our future.

In thinking about leadership, are we trying to put new ideas into old thinking patterns? The complexity of leadership in the New World (21st century) needs new ways of thinking.

Having reimagined new ways of leading based on our knowledge of the past, how can we make changes both as individual leaders but also through the collective?  Our first step is to reflect and then rethink …

Explore our Compass36O Collective Leadership Model

Our Seven Collective Leadership Values

Our Collective Leadership Model promotes the aim of selfless leaders working together.  As the earlier section on collective leadership explained, it relies on different stakeholders sharing and distributing their leadership.  The purpose of this is to ensure that mutual aims and objectives are supported.  At the core of the model is the need for networks and knowledge to drive our Leadership Quomodo, which defines leadership practice.  You will have the opportunity to briefly consider each of the values and to get an introduction to the online Collective Leadership Inventory (CLI).  This has both a short and a more detailed assessment framework for the seven values.

Click here to explore the seven values.

The Selfless Leader