Collective leadership
Collective leadership

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Collective leadership

2.3 Case study 1

To assist in understanding collective leadership in practice, the following case study is a real example of how an elected public official engaged with the electorate to help them realise they could work together to improve ‘their’ city.

Activity 4 The ‘nerdy’ professor

Timing: Allow around 30 minutes

Read the case study at the link below. While you are reading it, there are two questions in the introduction for you to think about. But think especially about how the ‘nerdy Professor’ worked to connect with the different age groups, cultures and languages across the Canadian city of Calgary.

Doing politics differently: How a ‘nerdy Professor’ engaged with the citizens of Calgary [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]


Naheed Nenshi used social media to connect to a wider and younger audience but he recognised that it was not going to connect with everyone. However, to be ‘collective’, he realised the importance of being relational – meeting people face-to-face at coffee mornings. It was an opportunity to have a two-way conversation with Nenshi, in community settings where there were opportunities for open and honest conversations.

Rather than talking using political rhetoric and complicated jargon, Nenshi believed in sharing ‘big ideas’ for Calgary, listening to what the people of the city wanted.

For example, to connect with the people of NE Calgary, Nenshi’s team realised that they needed to work with community leaders and talk to people in a language and manner that they would understand and connect with. By translating leaflets and involving respected community leaders, an open and honest conversation was providing opportunities for change in Calgary.

Having considered the individual leader as ‘person’ and leadership as a process, you are now going to consider a few practices that might benefit from working more collectively to improve follower engagement. This will be done by considering the metaphor of the Collective Canyon.


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