Five Business Containers for Collaborative Leadership

Five business containers for collaborative leadership

In a previous post, I mentioned how relevant organizational containers are to help self-organize individuals and teams activities. I´m focusing myself on five containers:

  • Adopting a systemic model: each pillar in the model helps to explain both individual and team activities.
  • Generating future business scenarios: plausible futures help to expand individual and team perspectives; desired future requires individuals and teams willing to share a vision.
  • Sharing common vision and brand architecture: brand claim, touch points and storytelling fixes individual and team desired interactions with clients.
  • Developing business principles and cultural identity awareness: business principles pose individual limits to collective action; they are often connected to brand touch-points.
  • Creating a sustainable collaborative habitat: multi-system learning communities become containers for adding individual value and for learning how to expand business.

Implementing any of the above container requires both individual and collective learning mostly through a collaborative conversations process. Collaborative leadership implies influencing system learning and adaptation through the selected container, while been sensitive to individual and team resistances to learn and adapt.

Collaborative leadership, the main focus of our workshop taking place in Paris November 8 and 9, 2016. For more information or to register visit:

Communities in Collaborative Leadership

Communities in Collaborative Leadership


If client experience is part of your brand promise, then learning communities might be relevant collaborative leadership containers to deliver your brand promise to clients. Both client experience and brand promise are strongly connected to improve people agency. What questions shall we address to inter-connect these three circles? (see above).

How do we incorporate clients voice internally? What collaborative technology shall we use to improve people agility and agency? What client-centered conversations are relevant? Do people need to learn collaborative leadership approaches in order to align individual skills and collective capabilities to brand promise? How do we balance between thinking, talking and doing? What transformation should happen at power organizational pillar in order to improve people agency? As organization, can we live in a sort of free-style liberated mode? How could we use the 6PM to set an organizational container?

Collaborative leadership, the main focus of our workshop taking place in Paris November 8 and 9, 2016. For more information or to register visit:

The 6PM: Why collaborative leadership is so relevant?

the-6pmThe Six Pillars Model (6PM)

The Six Pillars Model (6PM) has been developed by myself and tested several times over the last few years as a container to help leaders and teams engage large system initiatives and transformations. This simple and innovative model poses that any human system might be approached through six pillars (see above). Each pillar can be considered as an active lever. Beyond the diversity of the pillars, the 6PM offers three major systemic innovations allowing us to embrace complexity:

  • The first one is the antagonistic relationship between levers: vision vs. culture, power vs. co-creation, innovation vs. result. The vision requires emergent behavior to be shared. Innovation is the most important way to regenerate future results. Co-creation means ensuring that skilled people have agency to refresh and influence system behaviors.
  • The second one is that there are three levers helping the system to open up to other systems or to eco-system, which means learning and adapting to new market conditions; these levers are vision, innovation and co-creation. Also, there are three levers that deal with closing up positions: power, results and culture. Power means “power over” other people; this is strongly connected to supervising, controlling and prioritizing; people getting power want to keep power. Results mean reproducing similar economic outputs at worst, improving at best. Culture means sharing a similar container – people capabilities, believes, behaviors, relationship, rituals, etc. Most often, the shortest and easiest way leaders see to legitimate power is by pushing the system to reproduce similar results, which implies aligning the system culture to power desires. As a conclusion, the system requires both: learning and adapting (visioning, innovating and co-creating), and reproducing (controlling, repeating and memorizing).
  • The third innovation is related to the overall balance across the six pillars. Is it there any preferred system position? Intuitively, we believe that leading implies pushing the system towards a stable or static position. However, the 6PM sets that leading implies building a continuous dynamic balance among the six pillars. This is not possible without collaborative leadership.

Collaborative Leadership

Levers in antagonist relationship? Opening up levers? Closing up levers? Building a dynamic balance by leveraging on the six levers? Would that reflect a too complicated system? YES, especially to be managed through traditional leadership approach. NOT, by learning collaborative leadership approaches and tools.

Through the 6PM, we become aware about tensions, contradictions and paradoxes happening in any human system; some are visible and some are hidden. They all connect people to resistance, opposite views, lack of understanding, stress, blaming and conflict. Collaborative leadership implies raising awareness about the self –language, body, and emotion – in order to contribute to the team, and to have a team collaborative conversation in order to promote this dynamic balance.

As a conclusion, most of the complexity we are encountering in business those days is due to the fact that, 1) we prefer using quite simplistic models; 2) there is a preference for simplistic leadership approaches as they preserve power as a main argument to embrace complexity, and 3) most leaders ignore how to combine the self, teams and the large system. Collaborative leadership shows us that complexity might be an excellent excuse to do nothing.

Collaborative leadership, the main focus of our workshop taking place in Paris November 8 and 9, 2016. For more information or to register visit:

Building the Body of a Collaborative Leader

Building the body of a collaborative leader

Millions of words have been written about leadership. Some absolutely stellar authors have broadened our thinking and gifted us with brilliant insights on the topic. The lion’s share of the literature on leadership focuses on the individual as leader. Leadership as a collective art form is not as widely written about. A growing segment of leadership studies is focusing on what is often termed “presence”, which explores how an individual can embody leadership in ways that cause people to automatically respond, usually at an unconscious level, to their message. Leaders with a high degree of presence generally exude a grounded sense of confidence that engenders trust – which is foundational for collaborative leadership. Collaborative leadership is concerned with both embodied presence and the kinds of collective processes that lead to higher functioning teams.

The role of language

In collaborative leadership, both individual presence and collective processes are closely tied to understanding the role of language, or more properly “languaging.” Languaging is a term coined by Chilean biologist Humberto Maturana referring to the active nature of observing, listening, speaking, gesturing, interpreting and creating knowledge that is inherent in our use of language.

Maturana posits that people live in language and that language is what gives rise to rationality. However, he also points out that “Every rational system is formed with premises based on emotions, not reason… All rational systems are formed with premises accepted from desires, likings, and preferences; from emotion… What guides our living are emotions, likings, preferences, fears. Where we orient ourselves in our living depends in what interest us, what we like, what we fear, what we reject. And based on that we make explanatory rational systems trying to give it form or (create) a logical argument to what we do.” (emphasis added.) [From a transcript of a radio interview given by Maturana in 2013.]

The role of emotions

This idea, that all rational systems are based on emotions goes against the grain of many core tenants in the world of traditional leadership. A world where numerous attempts are made to appeal to people’s reason in the mistaken belief that reason will trump emotion. Shifting our stance to recognize the primacy of emotions over rationality brings us to the domain of the body, or soma as the Greeks termed it. Soma and somatic refer not simply to the flesh and bones of our bodies, but to the exquisite, innate living intelligences inherent in our bodies. Millions of years of evolution have imbued us with multiple intelligences far too often overlooked in the world of business. Were he alive to witness it, René Descartes would be greatly chagrined to see how modern neuroscience is demonstrating that the mind and body are not separate, but function as an unbroken and integral whole.

Ask yourself, what is it that lets us know instantly when we walk into a room who we are drawn to speak with and whom we want to steer clear of? How is it that we intuitively recognize people we can trust and those who make us uneasy? These intuitions are not the product of “rational” processes; they are the work of multiple somatic intelligences. Nearly everyone I’ve ever spoken to about this topic has stories of ignoring their “gut” when making a decision where all the reasons lined up but something just didn’t quite “feel” right and they later came to regret their course of action.

Notice the vocabulary here. We think with our heads and we feel with our guts. Most of us live inside cultures where enormous value is placed on our cognitive abilities, and emotions are marginalized – thought of as distractions at best and hindrances to be avoided at worst. But if we pay close attention we will discover that we make decisions based on emotions first and then seamlessly move into creating reasons (rationalizations) for why we are choosing our path of action, tricking ourselves in the process into thinking that it is our reason that is guiding our choices.

Collaborative leadership is body-centric

It begins with recognizing that the ability to calm our bodies down and keep our emotions positive is at the core of being able to engage with people in ways that make them want to join in any kind of collaborative effort. Creating the conditions where people feel safe to express divergent perspectives, and feel appreciated for gifts and talents is a prerequisite for collaboration. The minute we engender either fear or defensive behaviors we effectively shut down the learning process. And learning lies at the heart of collaboration and leadership. Without learning we stand still in a rapidly changing world, a recipe for disaster.

Collaborative leadership, the main focus of our workshop taking place in Paris November 8 and 9, 2016. For more information or to register visit:

leadership collaboratif

Qu’elle se situe au niveau d’une personne, d’une équipe ou d’une entreprise, la complexité est une notion que nous avons beaucoup de mal à appréhender de façon intuitive : c’est un fantôme dont tout le monde parle mais que personne n’arrive à prendre en photo.

Le leadership collaboratif tâche de réduire la complexité en déployant des containers systémiques à partir d’approches collaboratives. Les containers sont comme des prototypes ; certains nous éclairent sur les actions variées voire antagonistes que nous devons déployer dans le système (ex.: un modèle systémique), d’autres posent les frontières de l’action collective du système (ex. : les valeurs ou principes d’une entreprise, la vision partagée et l’architecture de la marque), et d’autres encore apportent une direction à suivre pour déployer l’action collective (ex. : les scénarios du futur qui émerge, l’habitat de collaboration multi-systèmes).

Chaque système doit développer ses propres processus, ce qui demande un dialogue génératif et un apprentissage collectif. Il y a intelligence collective lorsque les personnes vivent un partage de sens collectif et un engagement individuel vis-à-vis du processus co-développé. Par ailleurs, la construction de sens partagé aide les personnes et les équipes sur le chemin de la simplexité. Le but n’étant pas de faire disparaître la complexité mais plutôt d’en réduire la part qui correspond à nous-mêmes.

Les Conversations Collaboratives sont sans doute l’une des meilleures méthodes pour travailler ce dialogue génératif et accéder au partage de sens en co-développant ces processus.