Participatory Leadership

Via the Art of Hosting emaillist Toke send us a harvest document that talks about Participatory Leadership. This is in other language the worldview that we train people in, in The Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations. Here it is for you to enjoy!

How do you explain participatory leadership in one sentence?

o Imagine… a meeting of 60 people, where in an hour you would have heard everyone and at the end you would have precisely identified the 5 most important points that people are willing to act on together.

o When appropriate, deeper engagement of all in service of our purpose.

o Hierarchy is good for maintenance, participatory leadership is good for innovation and adapting to change.

o Complements the organigramme units with task force work groups on projects.

o Look at how well they did it in ….. – We could be the ones everybody looks at.

o Using all knowledge, expertise, conflicts, etc. available to achieve the common good on any issue.

o It allows to deal with complex issues by using the collective intelligence of all people concerned & getting their buy-in.

o Participatory Leadership is methods, techniques, tips, tricks, tools to evolve, to lead, to create synergy, to share experience, to lead a team, to create a transversal network, to manage a project, an away day, brainstorming, change processes, strategic visions.

o Consult first, write the legislation after.

From Traditional ways of working -> To Participatory leadership complementing

Harvesting after the check-in circle


Individuals responsible for decisions -> Using collective intelligence to inform decision-making

No single person has the right answer, but somebody has to decide ->Together we can reach greater clarity – intelligence through diversity

Hierarchical lines of management ->Communities of practice

Wants to create a FAIL-SAFE environment ->Creates a SAFE-FAIL environment that promotes learning

Top-down agenda setting ->Set agenda together

I must speak to be noticed in meetings ->Harvesting what matters, from all sources

Communication in writing only ->Asking questions

Organisation chart determines work ->Task forces/purpose-oriented work in projects

People represent their services ->People are invited as human beings, attracted by the quality of the invitation

One-to-many information meetings ->A participatory process can inform the information!

Great for maintenance, implementation (doing what we know) ->When innovation is needed – learning what we don’t know, to move on – engaging with constantly moving targets

Information sharing ->When engagement is needed from all, including those who usually don’t contribute much.

Dealing with complaints by forwarding them to the hierarchy for action ->Dealing with complaints directly, with hierarchy trusting that solutions can come from the staff

Consultation through surveys, questionnaires, etc. ->Co-creating solutions together in real time, in presence of the whole system

Top-down ->Bottom-up

Management by control ->Management by trust

Questionnaires (contribution wanted from …) ->Engagement processes – collective inquiry with stakeholders

Mechanistic ->Organic – if you treat the system like a machine, it responds like a living system

Top down orders – often without full information ->Top-down orders informed by consultation

Resistance to decisions from on high ->Better acceptance of decisions because of involvement

Silos/hierarchical structures ->More networks

Tasks dropped on people ->Follow your passion

Rigid organisation ->Flexible self-organisation

Policy design officer disconnected from stakeholders ->Direct consultation instead of via lobby organisations

People feel unheard/not listened to ->People feel heard

Working without a clear purpose and jumping to solutions ->Collective clarity of purpose is the invisible leader

Motivation via carrot & stick ->Motivation through engagement and ownership

Managing projects, not pre-jects ->Better preparation – going through chaos, open mind, taking account of other ideas

Focused on deliverables ->Focused on purpose – the rest falls into place

Result-oriented ->Purpose-oriented

Seeking answers ->Seeking questions

Pretending/acting ->Showing up as who you are

Broadcasting, boring, painful meetings ->Meetings where every voice is heard, participants leave energised

Chairing, reporting ->Hosting, harvesting, follow-up

Event & time-focused ->Good timing, ongoing conversation & adjustment

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