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Seeing Integrative Leadership in a Team


By Carolyn Banks, MBA Candidate at the Carlson School of Management & 2012 - 13 CIL Student Leadership Team Member

At our last student leadership team meeting, I mentioned that I am currently on a fantastic team for my consulting enterprise project at the Carlson School of Management. It's a team of 6 students, and I would have to say that this is bar none the best team I have ever been a part of. Everyone is self-motivated and knows their strengths. If someone gets an idea they do some research and then share it with the group - without asking for permission or instruction. When new ideas are brought into the team, we ego-lessly discuss if and how we should integrate it into our project. Everyone on the team feels like the others are pulling more weight than them. I can't tell you how good it feels to be on this team. The weight of the world isn't on my shoulders. I can focus on the things that I am good at because I know that someone else on the team is good at and will do those other things.

Integrative leaders bring together equals over whom they have no authority.

Probably the most difficult position on this team is our leader. He is a fellow student trying to manage a group of ambitious, talented, motivated and opinionated equals. He is as pressed for time as the rest of us. We all have different schedules that he manages around. Being a mother of 2, I'm probably the worst about special requests that are of course eminently reasonable, but nonetheless headachy. He interfaces with and balances the needs of all of our stakeholders - us, our teacher, those helping us, and our client.

Sound familiar?

Big, audacious goals require teams of equals.

Diverse abilities and resources are required to tackle complex challenges - a diversity that a disparate team provides. This is perhaps another reason why design thinking and integrative leadership make such likely friends.

Integrative leaders bring together multiple individuals over whom they may have no formal authority to work towards a common goal. If they are able to let the right person take over - and if the team members willingly step forward to lead when they are needed, this team is more powerful than the sum of its individuals. And that is what's needed to solve many of the crises in today's world.

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