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Student Reflections on Integrative Leadership

By Mike Osberg

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.

Throughout the semester we have been exposed to numerous examples of both successful integrative leadership, and instances that have not worked as intended. From the successful collaborative efforts needed to revitalize the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, to the failed attempts of the EPA to partner with 3M and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the course brought to light an array of forums within which integrative leadership can be fostered.

We learned that integrative leadership tends to evolve out of problems that cannot be solved by just one sector (private, non-profit, government). In these instances, alternative sectors with unique skills come together to work on solving the problems in new ways. Throughout this course, I have developed an increased awareness of integrative leadership that happens every day, and the course has equipped me not only to recognize these examples, but also understand the underpinnings of their failures and successes.

Recently I came across a unique example of very successful integrative leadership here in Minneapolis. In a recent article in Minnesota Business Magazine, (http://www.minnesotabusiness.com/business-baseball), the main leadership figures behind the building of Target Field were interviewed about their roles and the partnerships required to build the stadium.

They had the common vision of creating a stadium that fit each of their specific institutional goals and responsibilities but also shared each other's goals. Leaders in the public Minnesota Ballpark Authority saw the stadium as a, "new urban landmark that will help spur downtown Minneapolis development."

The stadium not only benefits the Twins financially, but also the city publicly, as outlined by the president of Twins ownership, Jerry Bell, "Baseball has a greater cultural benefit than an economic benefit...we wanted it (the stadium) to be reflective of Minnesota."

Building sports stadiums may not be the first realms that is thought about for integrative leadership, however this article struck me as a clear example of the collaborative leadership and vision that is often necessary to solve complex issues. The course on integrative leadership has provided a forum for engaging more deeply into theories of leadership across sectors with compelling cases and discussions with significant actors in these cases. Whether the issue is neighborhood revitalization, human trafficking or baseball stadiums, the leadership skills that we have developed in this course and within the Center for Integrative Leadership will be applicable for all of us as public, private or non-profit leaders.

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