by Georgina Wilson
Georgina WiIson recently attended our Networks & Coffee event. She explains how practicing collaborative leadership can help people build supportive peer networks.
Leadership = Power?
As leaders, we are so often taught that leadership looks like power. We’re taught that we have to claw and fight our way to the top of the heap and then command everybody once we get there.
But, from my experience working with leaders and community groups to lead positive change, I’ve learned that it’s just so much more special and so much more effective to collaborate with our peers. As individuals, we can’t possibly know everything. But as leaders, it’s tempting to pretend that we do.
A different kind of leadership...
Here’s the thing: the moment we start admitting that there may be people on our teams and in our networks that have a skill we don’t is the moment we start being more effective agents of change. Groups tend to be far more successful when they admit that there may be someone on the team who does something better, just like there are things I do better. It’s all about recognizing the unique skills in our team members and acting on them.
Recently, I attended Power to Change’s Networks & Coffee event facilitated by Shared Assets and The Social Change Agency. We looked at some of the reasons why networks making social change are struggling. One of the key elements of this conversation was that to be successful change agents, we should tap into the power that exists in simply coming together and growing together.
How do we get there?
This is something I am personally trying to emphasise in the project I’m leading called “Lead Positive Change.” We have had several events called “how change-makers can lead positive change,” and what was key there is that we created the space to learn and grow from one another.
I also wondered why we thought it was okay to try and create alone, to really try and strive without collaboration. So with my business, BUD (Businesses Under Development), I’m taking a unique approach by supporting leaders of positive change through teaching a participation based approach.
We want to create so much collaboration and partnership that people truly feel valued, and to encourage the idea that each individual can truly contribute something incredibly important. On a personal level, I want to work with other people and I want to share my skills with them and learn the skills that they have. We want groups not only to learn how to collaborate, but to gravitate towards collaboration. We want people to start seeing it as both appealing and natural.
What I have learned, and what I want others to learn, is the importance of understanding and respecting one another. I want individuals to gain experience outside of themselves. And I want people to see how when you put two people next to each other, you can create something that has never before existed. Collaboration is a fusion of ideas and skills and networks that turn into something new and beautiful. To me, it is one of the coolest concepts in the world and I want others to see it as well.