Collaborative Leadership: Building effective and productive relationships

In February 2015, the SEE Change Net and SEE SEP team participated in a Collaborative Leadership workshop, held by Joan Van Den Brink of Araba Consulting in Belgrade, Serbia. Joan holds a holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry, awarded by Cambridge University in 1988, but since that time, her career has spanned marketing, operations, management consulting and HR. She uses her personal chemistry to develop strong personal relationships and create solutions tailored to the specific need.

During the two days of the workshop led by Joan, senior advisors from 7 CSOs collaborating with SEE Change Net on the SEE SEP (South East Europe Sustainable Energy Policy) project were dedicated to exploring various aspects of collaborative leadership through various exercises and discussions. The group worked on understanding where their partnership lies on the collaboration spectrum, but also explored a number of practical tools that can develop collaborative leadership.

In her blog post The Art of Collaborative Leadership, Joan Van Den Brink explains what is collaborative leadership: “Collaborative leadership is often a requirement in public-private partnerships, however, in our increasingly interconnected world, with the extension of the organisation through partnerships, crowdsourcing, networks etc. it is equally applicable to all forms of relationships where you need to work across (internal and external) boundaries to get results. In these situations, as leaders, you do not have the formal authority that you have inside your own organisation – you cannot command people in other organisations to do something. You need to find other ways to lead that builds effective and productive relationships.”

Joan shared her impressions on the Belgrade workshop: “I have a lot of experience of facilitating senior leaders in public and private sector organisations on leadership. However, this was the first time that I had worked with a group of leaders from different NGOs. I have a lot of respect for the work that these people do with such passion and commitment and have learnt a lot during the whole process of designing and running the workshop. The participants were very open, interested and engaged in the topic of collaborative leadership.”

The participants were committed to improving their collaborative leadership skills and worked intensively during the two days to discuss the issues that really mattered and find solutions to enhance their cooperation. “I could really see them growing closer together on a personal level over the two days, which provides a strong foundation for the work they have ahead in this 2nd cycle of the SEESEP project. I am delighted and proud to have played a small part in their growth”, says Joan Van Den Brink, who shares more of her experience with the SEE SEP group in her latest blog post.


Photo: SEE Change Net
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