Choose a Collaborative Leader (within the Action Team)

When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves’.

—Lao Tzu

Community Led Impact Partnerships require a different style of leadership than, let’s say, a change process within an organisation. The CLIP Process relies greatly on collaboration and so the leader as “the hero leading the change” is not suitable.

Since everyone within the CLIP Process is more or less on an equal footing, where all voices and ideas are equally valid, the leader is not in control of the Action Team but has responsibility for guiding and coordinating the process. This means that the Action Team decides upon and carries out actions to accomplish its goals. The Collaborative Leader must lead the CLIP Process rather than lead the group.

Typical characteristics of a Collaborative Leader:

  • Able to work seamlessly with a range of individuals and partner groups.
  • Engages the Action Team in decision-making.
  • Engages with the community in finding solutions to problems.
  • Helps the team to set norms for such things as meetings, communication and getting things done. See more on this in Project Management.
  • Ensures everyone has his or her point of view heard.
  • Able to listen and summarise, perhaps more than contributing their own ideas or driving their own agenda.
  • Faces up to conflict when it occurs in the Action Team and facilitates a resolution (or at least a respectful airing of difference).
  • Leads collaborative problem solving and decision-making, valuing both rational and intuitive thoughts.
  • Keeps the Action Team on track with action plans.
  • Hold people to account for getting things done by the agreed deadlines.
  • Recognises when wins occur.
  • Keeps the focus on the project not the interests of the participants or their organisations.


  1. Jointly decide on a Collaborative Leader for your project. This might be the person who convened the Action Team or someone else within the Action Team.
  2. Consider rotating the role amongst those willing to take the role. Alternatively, your team might appoint a trained facilitator to lead the process.