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It's More Like We-adership

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Feb 25, 2011

Image of crowd exercising leadership, collaboration

Collaboration - Enough Said.

During the first phase of the Enhancing Workforce Leadership Project, we interviewed dozens of leaders who emphasized collaboration as central to their work. Nearly universally, they said convening partners to advance positive change is the most important work they do. It's not all warm and fuzzy though. Many of these same leaders (particularly those working for public agencies) indicated that they work in organizations characterized by rigid internal hierarchies, while simultaneously trying to create more fluid, and flexible networks externally. Managing these different modes can be challenging.

Building Strengths.

When asked about why networks were increasingly important to their work, leaders noted that workforce development (like economic and community development as well as other areas of public policy) has shifted its focus from narow concerns, such as placing unemployed workers in jobs, addressing specific skills gaps, and promoting work readiness, to broader community community priorities like regional competitiveness, poverty, talent development, etc. Workforce development is no longer just about problem-solving, it's also about strength building. Tackling these broader agendas requires collaborative effort.

Encouraging Others to Lead.

Another important aspect of collaborative leadership is knowing when not to lead. Collaborative leaders don't just work with others, they enable others to rise to new challenges.

"We bring together different players involved in workforce development, from tech schools to trade associations and state government agencies. We are conveners. So much depends on the willingness to collaborate." – Lana, State Representative