everyone can and should lead (Preskill and Brookfield 2009). Collective
leadership requires specific conditions for the success of the whole:
trust, shared power, transparent and effective communication, account-
ability, and shared learning. It is based on the recognition that without
the gifts, talents, perspectives, and efforts of many, sustainable change is
difficult to achieve. Creativity is unleashed as people tap into their full-
est abilities and capacities. When collective leadership is present, people
say, “We have done this ourselves.”
A key aspect of collective leadership is that the success depends on
the leadership within the entire group rather than the skills of one
person. Mary Parker Follett, whom we consider to be the mother of
collective leadership, wrote about power with others rather than power
over others (Fox and Urwick 1973). This means that rather than having
leadership limited to one charismatic person or one powerful organiza-
tion, leadership is shared among many. This shift from focusing on the
skills of any one individual to the capacities, relationships, behaviors,
and practices of an entire group (two or more people) makes collec-
tive leadership different from other types of leadership and leadership
models. In “Leadership in the Age of Complexity,” Margaret Wheatley and
Debbie Frieze (2010) discuss a shift from thinking of a leader as a “hero”
to thinking of a leader as a “host.” When a leader is the “hero,” he or
she is expected to have all the answers, solve all the problems, and fix
everything for everyone else. The “hero” is dynamic, charismatic, and
brilliant. The problem with this mind-set is that the command and con-
trol model often uses quick solutions that are created by a few in power
(the top of an organizational chart), and often these solutions are not
well suited for the complex issues that we face today. Instead, we need
leaders as “hosts”: those who have the skills to promote shared learning,
effective group decision making, reflection, visioning and goal setting,
and mutual accountability.

What does this shift from “hero” to “host” look like? The following
table shows some of the key differences between traditional and collec-
tive leadership.

8 Chapter 1