Collaborative Leadership for a Stronger Tomorrow

The Situation

How can a longstanding deeply respected organization smoothly transition leadership? How can a collaborative leadership approach build respect and trust, both internally and externally? How does a learning-centered organization nurture collaborative leadership?

As International Budget Partnership (IBP) prepares to welcome a new Executive Director, they have been thinking about how they can emerge from this transition year as a more united and connected – and therefore stronger – organization.

It was believed that one of the most powerful ways to get there was to build greater cohesion and connection between managers across IBP, including those in the Executive Team (ET) and those managing country offices, departments and big projects. This is essentially the group that manages the IBP now and in the future, and holds collective wisdom during and after an executive transition.

The anticipated long-term outcome was to have a more united leadership team which would through a 6-month learning & unification process. After two years of remote work, and an international expansion the leadership hoped that this process would bring together the organization to enter 2023 stronger and ready to support the entering Executive Director to effectively lead.

The Journey

Right away, Global Learning Partners engaged with the IBP planning team for this initiative. We worked together to co-create a 6-month learning series anchored in deep exploration of 6 traits of collaborative leadership:

  • Trust
  • Cultivating curiosity
  • Participatory decision-making
  • Diversity of voices
  • Shared responsibility and accountability
  • Affirmation, gratitude, and celebrating success

The Challenge

The IBP emerged from almost three years of COVID having gained resilience and new skills but also having weakened its connections between staff and leadership.

Layered on this challenge was the new challenge of transitioning out a widely loved and respected long standing Executive Director, while maintaining a seamless operation. It was critical that the new Executive Director be welcomed warmly with a connected and coherent leadership team in place to support her.

As well, over the six-month learning series individuals on the team increasingly started to believe working collaboratively was a real goal. This was not just an exercise but there was a real desire by all present, including the Executive Team, to work as a larger leadership team. Collaboration was the goal. As this realization set in, so did the pressure to ‘get to business’ in our monthly meetings. The meeting warm-ups got shorter and stakes got higher. As we entered budget time with this team and started developing an onboarding process, energy and excitement built. As the shift in ownership happened so did the design and facilitation of our monthly meetings.

The Impact

The goals of creating a Collaborative Leadership Team were:

  1. To deepen connections, relational trust and a sense of togetherness
  2. To enable a smooth transition process through building a collaborative leadership team
  3. To generate excitement about the next chapter in IBP’s life and work
  4. To ensure a strong leadership team to support the new Executive Director

To date, this newly formed collaborative Leadership Team has achieved the following:

  • Enhanced inclusion and ownership in the annual organizational budget process
  • Created a positive and helpful onboarding process for the incoming Executive Director
  • Communicated internally more frequently on matters of importance
  • Created a platform to intentionally engage together and met monthly
  • Grown in its identity as Leadership Team and valuing a collaborative leadership model
  • Committed to a team rooted in trust; cultivating curiosity; participatory decision-making; diversity of voices; shared responsibility & accountability; and affirmation, gratitude, and celebrating success

This work has been encouraging. There is a growing sense of ownership by managers and enthusiasm to facilitate a new onboarding process as well as lead collaborative into the future.