Robert Reich described a leader as …someone who steps back from the entire system and tries to build a more collaborative, more innovative system that will work over the long term. Recently, I’ve seen this sentence cited in a few books, signature lines of colleagues, an online game about redistricting, and websites that collect cool and/or brainy quotes. The sentiment seems timely as collaboration and innovation, from my vantage point, are two of the most commonly used words by leaders nowadays. Last week, I attended an annual meeting in which the main theme was “collaboration + innovation for the future.”
Okay, if we’re on the same page about desired qualities in our leaders, now what?
As an academic, I’m thinking higher ed needs to expand its scholarship and curriculum on collaborative and innovative leadership. As a practitioner, I’d add there’s a desperate need to elevate (and teach) proven processes and practices that get leaders to a place of collaboration and innovation within and between organizations and between and within leaders and followers. As a global citizen, I sit here wishing for a future shaped by collaborative leaders that step back and engage/challenge citizens to work together to find innovative systemic solutions to society’s most long-standing and disruptive challenges.
Clearly, Reich is right!