By Liz Stone
Students from the Spring 2010 "Integrative Leadership: From Theory to Practice" course, taught by Professors Jay Kiedrowski and Paul Vaaler, will post their reflections on integrative leadership throughout the course of the semester on the Time to Lead blog.
What does integrative leadership look like? What does it take to be an integrative leader? The various cases explored in the Integrative Leadership course, and the many other examples of Integrative Leadership that exist, help to answer these questions. Though there may not be one simple definition of what an integrative leader or integrative leadership looks like, there are themes and characteristics that commonly emerge as well as new insights that help to bring light to this concept. The following are a few that stood out to me:
• Integrative leaders need to be able to look beyond their traditional boundaries and to broadly define and understand who stakeholders may be and to involve them in the process.
• Communication, trust and consensus building are simple but critical concepts that are at the heart of integrative leadership.
• Integrative leadership involves risk taking, patience and persistence. Integrative leaders not only need to be willing to work across boundaries, but they must be persistent in their goal to do so in order to achieve a particular end. Integrative leaders are patient, waiting to initiate or foster collaborations when the time is right, as well as patient in achieving the end result as collaborative processes inherently take time.
In many situations, integrative leadership is not an option, but a necessity. The large, intractable problems that our society faces today are not problems that are isolated to any one field, sector, community or organization. The solutions, therefore, must involve bridging the boundaries to involve all relevant players across various sectors; and this requires integrative leadership.