Collective leadership
Collective leadership

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Collective leadership

3.3 Collective leadership is not easy!

Now watch the second part of the animation on the Collective Canyon. It demonstrates that just because you have put in the effort at the start, or rebuilt a bridge, it does not mean that your job as a leader is done. Maintaining these ‘bridges’, to keep the ‘space between’ as an effective collective space, takes continual effort by both the leaders and the followers.

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Reading and understanding more about collective leadership and improving working relations all sounds wonderful. But building and maintaining the numerous bridges over the collective canyon requires constant work. People are all different. We have different personalities, values, varying outlooks, many different priorities and interests in our lives.
In organisations, they often forget that we have home lives, families, friends, carers, hobbies, volunteer work, and so on. Leaders sometimes have to make difficult decisions- redundancies, budget cuts, office closures. There is also a tendency that leaders spin an over positivity alongside this.
It's what Collinson has termed Prozac leadership. This is a warning that bosses do not have all the answers, with the word Prozac being used to symbolise the widespread social addiction to excessive positivity. Collinson's discussion around Prozac leadership, drawing on the metaphor of Prozac, suggests that leaders' excessive positivity is often characterised by a reluctance to consider alternative voices. Not listening to what the others in the organisation have to say and only focusing on positive rhetoric and not reality can leave organisations ill-prepared to deal with unexpected events.
In summary, Prozac leadership encourages leaders to believe their own narratives, that everything is going well, in turn discouraging followers from raising problems or admitting mistakes. The focus moving from the individual in leadership studies to the ideological of the collective often reads as if it's going to fix all the problems in organisations. This is far from reality.
However, more of a focus on the relational aspects of leadership, improving communication, establishing trust, and encouraging individuals to have an active voice can certainly help an organisation overcome complex problems and work more effectively. One final warning. Relationships and trust can take a long time to build and establish between individuals, but it can be destroyed in seconds. Being more aware of ourselves around others can make a huge difference when working as a collective.
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The next case study is going to bring these practices, and others, together. It is a real example of working collectively in a hospital in the USA.


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