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  • Writer's pictureAmara Lynch

Celebrating and Growing Collective Leadership

At Hand in Hand, we are always doing two things: delivering customized, high-quality services and celebrating and growing the seeds of collective leadership that can be found throughout every community.

Hand in Hand was born out of burnout and is an ongoing inquiry into how we can do good work in ways that feel nourishing rather than depleting. What we're learning is that finding ways to work together differently—embracing what researchers call “collective leadership”—has a powerful role to play in combatting burnout, supporting sustainability, and enabling progress.

So what is collective leadership?

There are lots of definitions out there:

  • All members of a team collectively influencing each other toward accomplishing the team’s goals (Avolio et al., 2003).

  • “The utilization of expertise from multiple sources in a timely fashion to arrive at an effecive resolution of unique, rapidly emerging problems” (Yammarino et al., 2012, p. 393)

  • Teachers engaging concurrently in joint activity focused on relationships, power-sharing and shared goals that mobilizes each participant’s leadership potential (Cooper, 2022).

Here at Hand in Hand, we define collective leadership as a way of working that recognizes and values both our shared human-ness and our unique strengths and potentials. When we practice collective leadership, we learn, think, and work together in ways that generate much stronger outcomes than any one of us could have produced alone. Collective leadership shifts relationships from “power over” to “power with” and reorients our focus away from performance, compliance, and standardization to embrace a different set of values: practice, community, and the full expression of our collective brilliance.

Collective leadership isn’t merely a motivational pep-talk or a superficial team-building exercise. It requires dedication and effort. It involves productive conflict, and it does not provide easy answers. However, what practicing collective leadership does offer is a way of working that helps us feel less isolated, enhances our effectiveness, and allows us to experience the joy that comes from working together to make a meaningful impact.

Download this FREE resource for 7 easy ways to start celebrating and growing collective leadership in your community.


Avolio, B. J., Sivasubramaniam, N., Murry, W. D., Jung, D., & Garger, J. W. (2003). Assessing shared leadership. In C. L. Pearce & J. A. Conger (Eds.), Shared leadership. [Electronic resource]: Reframing the hows and whys of leadership (pp. 143–172). SAGE.

Cooper, M. (2022). Everyday collective leadership: Teachers enhancing education and care through goal-directed joint activity. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 1–23.

Yammarino, F. J., Salas, E., Serban, A., Shirreffs, K., & Shuffler, M. L. (2012, January 1). Collectivistic Leadership Approaches: Putting the -We- in Leadership Science and Practice. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 5(4), 382–402.


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