Collaborative Learnings on Leadership

‘Leader on Stairs’, Digital image by Quinn Brewer

Continuing from my earlier blog post on building a personal understanding of leadership using a constructionist approach, this post highlights further explorations into the meaning of leadership after collaboration with other leaders. The group came together to compare personal understandings of leadership and the theoretical underpinnings which guided each person’s perspective. Searching for commonalities and greater accuracy, we choose the image above with the tags, “vision, self-awareness, and authenticity” to represent our shared understanding of leadership.  

The digital image spotlights a woman, looking up towards her future path. Clear skies reflect her clarity of purpose. The common threads running through the group’s individual writings on leadership emphasised self-awareness and authenticity as cornerstones of leadership in all circumstances. A shared vision with followers, which includes a clear map of the landscape and a plan to reach a desired destination was also seen as critical to helping followers and leaders alike discover their “why”. The authentic leadership model was identified as a critical model for all leaders in modern corporations.

In comparing and contrasting my initial depiction of leadership with the understanding held by members of the wider group, I came to recognise that my current understanding was missing a critical dimension, situational context. While conscious leadership is still a comprehensive personal model, I recognised the need to explore how contextual or situational theories of leadership interact with this global theory and impact individual effectiveness. The situational leadership model was derived from earlier contingency models and argues that different leadership styles and attributes are needed for particular situations, especially to ensure follower-fit (Zigarmi & Roberts 2017). For leaders this means bringing conscious focus to their own leadership style and ensuring they adapt their style to match different followers preferred styles. This is significant, because it adds an additional dimension to my reflections on the chronic dehumanisation of followers in many leadership models and leadership training programs. It also emphasises another way to apply a servant style leadership approach, in that the leader is asked to shift their style to meet their followers needs, and continuously remain follower orientated.

Learning about leadership is only effective were it can be practiced and applied. This process has allowed me several opportunities to reflect on changes needed in my personal leadership approach but also in my management of two organisational change projects. The first is our frontline leadership training program and the second is our cultural and disability inclusion organisational development projects. To ensure better uptake and application of change in our frontline leaders, I will be introducing more reflective practices, with less focus on managerial skills (Wagner 2019). The group collaboration provided me with significant indications that situational/ contextual factors can play a major role in perceived and actual leadership performance. This is something that needs to be integrated into our leadership training offering, but also provides rich mining opportunities to understand gaps and roadblocks in organisational change related to disability inclusion and cross-cultural leadership. Although I have not yet got clear ideas of how this knowledge will be utilised to improve these elements, I will trust in the power of groups and bring it to others for us to reflect on and experiment with together. On a personal note, I recognise a need to engage in some deliberate coaching and reflection on areas of the organisation where my effectiveness has been inhibited. I have failed to recognise the differences in approach needed with peers and other program and department heads, compared to my own followers, which is the cause of friction and reduced effectiveness in some spaces. Altering my style in these situations and contexts will hopefully improve my effectiveness across the organisation as a whole.

The process of reviewing shared and competing understandings of leadership with a group has profoundly impacted my own understandings of leadership. The juxtaposition of my personal theory of leadership with dominant theoretical models has driven greater clarity and focus. Collaboration has unveiled significant blind spots, which provide unique opportunities to improve my personal leadership, and improve the leadership training program I oversee.   


Wagner, K 2006, ‘Benefits of reflective practice’, Leadership, vol.36, no.2, accessed April 19 2023, ProQuest Central database, <> 

Zigarmi, D & Roberts, TP 2017, ‘A test of three basic assumptions of Situational Leadership® II Model and their implications for HRD practitioners’, European Journal of Training and Development, vol.41, no.3, pp. 241–260, ProQuest Central database, accessed 20 April 2023,

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