Leadership & Collaboration Workshops

Achieving enduring, positive community change often requires government, business, non-profit and philanthropic leaders to collaborate. Too often those efforts fail to rise above coblaboration – repetitive meetings, even more opinions and little progress. Effective collaboration is not possible without strong leadership.

However, the leadership behaviors and skills required in collaborative environments are distinct from those used in organizational settings. The differences often frustrate organizational leaders accustomed to using clear lines of authority and established processes to achieve organizational goals. In collaborative environments, the players don’t have authority over each other, the collaborative process emerges over time, and independent players must assume shared responsibility for achieving shared goals.

Civic Collaboration Consultants, LLC, offers workshops designed to help organizational leaders exercise leadership within collaborative environments.

Beyond Coblaboration is an interactive, practical guide to the inherent challenges that make collaboration an unnatural act among non-consenting adults, and how to design and sustain effective collaborations to achieve enduring, positive community change.

This interactive presentation helps leaders understand:

  • Why collaborations are so different from their respective organizations.
  • How every collaboration goes through a similar cycle full of unavoidable traps.
  • What types of leadership needs to be exercised for collaborations to succeed.

Throughout the presentation, participants use an assessment tool to review the effectiveness of their own collaborations as they develop a deeper understanding of the pre-conditions and essential elements of effective cross-sector collaboration.

Technical Problems-Adaptive Challenges helps leaders distinguish between the two types of issues they regularly confront within the civic arena. Leaders explore why and how addressing adaptive challenges requires them to think, plan and act differently than when solving technical problems. According to Ronald Heifetz and Martin Linsky, the most common source of leadership failure is trying to address adaptive challenges with technical solutions. This workshop helps leaders identify when a civic challenge is adaptive, and prepares them to lead collaborative efforts to address such challenges.

Ready, Set, Collaborate guides leaders through the rules of interaction and design principles that lead to sustainable collaborations where decisions are made, actions are taken and goals are achieved. Effective collaborations need to develop a process that is informed by data, transparent, inclusive, and iterative. Leaders learn and experiment with tools and tactics that help them design and launch an effective collaboration process.

Navigating the Collaboration Cycle is designed for organizational leaders who are actively engaged in or are preparing to engage in a cross-sector collaboration. Every collaboration goes through a similar cycle. Leaders within a collaboration need to be familiar with the phases, milestones and traps that are inherent in the “Collaboration Cycle.” Through a mixture of presentation and exercises, leaders develop an understanding of the cycle, assess where they are within cycle, identify upcoming traps, and develop plans to move through those traps as quickly as possible.

Collaborative Leadership Skills Workshop provides a safe space for organizational leaders to practice and strengthen three skills required to exercise influence within a collaborative environment:

  • Inquiry: By asking compelling questions and listening deeply to the answers, leaders help themselves and others challenge assumptions, identify why the status quo persists and how they can work together to achieve shared goals.
  • Understanding Context: Leaders engage with others to understand their respective motivations and priorities, and to understand what changes within the community are needed to make collaboration possible.
  • Building Trust: Collaborations move at the speed of trust and trust must be built every day. Leaders develop a deep understanding of the elements of trust and learn how to use those elements to build trust with stakeholders.

This workshop was developed in conjunction with the Fund for Our Economic Future, the Cleveland Leadership Center and Leadership Akron.

Introduction to Collective Impact reviews this proven framework for cross-sector collaboration and provides tools to assess whether the climate is right to pursue a collective impact effort, and what is necessary to establish the five necessary conditions:

  • Common agenda
  • Shared measurement
  • Mutually reinforcing activities
  • Continuous communication
  • Backbone capacity

The Strange Roles & Responsibilities of Backbones provides leadership and staff of an emerging or established backbone entity an opportunity to reflect upon and deepen their understanding of why backbones are so different from a traditional nonprofit. Because backbones are designed to create alignment among independent players within a complex civic system, they perform roles not expected of traditional nonprofits. Interactive exercises help participants assess whether they should and/or how well they perform key backbone functions, including:

  • Guide vision and strategy
  • Support aligned activities
  • Establish shared measurement practices
  • Build public will
  • Advance policy
  • Mobilize funding

The Burden of Backbone Boards introduces board members of backbone entities (or members of a backbone’s steering committee) to the additional roles they must play to sustain an effective collective impact effort. Board members must be more than fiduciaries, they need to exercise system leadership, working in partnership with backbone staff to disrupt the status quo and catalyze transformation within a complex civic system. Too often collective impact efforts struggle because board members are unprepared to assume roles beyond those that they are accustomed to playing for a traditional nonprofit. This workshop provides a foundation for backbone board members to develop a shared understanding of their expanded responsibilities.