In Fountain’s experience, a single leader can have only a limited impact on a system without the active involvement of a broad coalition supporting deep change. When the whole team, organization, or system needs to change, where do you start? An expert activist without capable and empowered followers hits more resistance and burns out quicker when attempting deep change than a savvy leader who studies the whole system and harnesses a team or community to reinforce the commitment, navigate the route, and share the load.
For that reason, just as courageous authenticity inspires our 1-on-1 client work, the ethic of collaborative transformation guides Fountain’s engagements with leaders who seek deep change in an organizational or systems context. We challenge my clients who are motivated to transform teams, organizations, or systems to abandon the lone hero model of leadership and to cultivate allies who become deeply committed to the hard work of change. Our organizational clients often discover their best champions disguised as empowered subordinates, entrusted peers, or superiors invited to model different leadership.
Many methods of pursuing collaborative transformation can lead to success. All of them start with a recognition that the effort will require significant time and attention, which in some cases may need to outlast a single leader’s tenure. Issues of sustainability, emergence, and connectedness ought to rise in importance as a leader contemplates change of increasing scope.
For leaders accustomed to exercising positional authority or merely working within the existing system, deep change requires new learning, identifying your hopes for a legacy, and discovering what you yourself must let go of. That’s why collaborative transformation is correlated to courageous authenticity: a leaders’ individual work with a coach connects to the group work for the sake of generating new possibilities for all.