In 1996, John P. Kotter, Professor of Leadership, Emeritus at Harvard Business School wrote Leading Change. He outlined an 8 step linear process for effecting change inorganizations. And it was highly lauded by experts in leadership. 
Interestingly enough, Kotter supplemented his first book with a second book The Heart of Change, which revisited his model. In his own words:

“Our main finding, simply put, is that the central issue is never strategy, structure, culture or systems… the core of the matter is always about changing the
behavior of people, and behavior changes…mostly by speaking to people’s


So it’s appropriate to talk about human hearts and love stories in the context of change and leadership. For it’s the deep, visceral hunger and emotion that gets us to step out of “business as usual”, or our comfort zones. Out of the stands and onto the playing field…

Happy Valentine’s Day and read on to learn about my “love story”…. 

For me, it started with my daughter Kelsey… Back in June 2006, I decided to take my family to see An Inconvenient Truth. I had not seen it myself, but liked to stimulate conversation and thinking with my 13 year-old daughter Kelsey, and 10 year-old son Ryan. My daughter Erin was only 3 at the time, so we let her stay with a sitter. On the way out of the theater, I asked them what they thought about the movie. I’ll never forget this response… from Kelsey.  She said, “Mom, I’m not sure I want to have kids.”  You can imagine my reaction. And I said to her, “Kelsey, it’s very early for you to think about that, and the good news is that a lot of very smart people are working on these challenges, including me.”  (Melissa’s Musings – my blog entry from June 29, 2006)

We are in a world of accelerating change, and our organizations require a new leadership capacity to remain relevant
4 hands square
Leading from the Emerging Future

You know and I know that every industry is reinventing itself (or needs to!) in order to compete on a global stage, with economic, political and environmental uncertainty. Organizations are under pressure to do more with less. To grow, become more sustainable, more resilient, often while relying on aging infrastructure, an aging workforce, and increasing costs for labor, healthcare, raw materials and energy. 

Human beings are AT the HEART of change – and we are both the biggest barriers and the biggest enablersWho else is going to address these challenges? While so much focus is given to emerging technology, cleantech, cloud solutions, internet of everything, smart everything, the bottom line is that you and I make change happen – within and across organizational boundaries. And we meet resistance daily, as well as limitations in well-intentioned people who have simply don’t know how to step up and step into leadership. And we can do something about that. 

Collective Leadership is about leveraging the collective hearts and minds and the diverse strengths of the teams we are part of in order to accomplish our missionsIt sounds simple, but the reality is that more often than not – we are caught in our grandfather’s leadership paradigm. Companies are organized as a hierarchy, and we are teaching leadership principles to individuals, but not teaching leaders how to work collectively.  In fact, in my 28 years of corporate experience, I have witnessed how sometimes “innovators” and “collaborative leaders” are unintentionally pushed aside, perhaps because they are “hard to manage” or don’t fit the mold of a traditional leader. However, what got us here won’t get us there…. as they say.

Collective Leadership can be learnedLike emotional intelligence and social intelligence, we can also develop relationship systems intelligence. And we can learn to connect to the broader systems around us to sense and lead based on what we see coming, not just based on where we’ve been.  

Research from the Center for Creative Leadership identifies the need for Collective Leadership training

Find about four Future Trends in Leadership Development in this paper by Nick Petrie, a senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership’s Colorado Springs campus.

Learn face to face at the US Launch of Collective Leadership, starting April 2 – 4, 2013 in Buffalo NY.  I’ll be co-leading this workshop series, which kicks off in April near Buffalo NY. It’s easy to enroll – click here for more information.  Consider bringing one or two allies that are working with you for even greater impact.        
Free Web Event – Understanding the Need for Collective Leadership, and Intro to the Collective Leadership Allies Program in AprilI’m hosting a series of web conference calls over the next few weeks to give folks a chance to learn more, and assess how this program fits into your world right now – what concrete value can you and/or your organization gain from investing in this kind of program. Click here to register for a free Web Event – Understanding the Need for Collective Leadership.

SO will you share your “love story”? What compels you to do what you do? Don’t forget to let your heart weigh in every now and then, especially if it feels like you’ve gotten yourself into a rut. Assess what MUST change, and let it be personal. You’ll have a lot more energy to work with!