Center for Integrative Leadership
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Center for Integrative Leadership


Integrative Leadership to address Global Grand Challenges


Effective integrative leaders deploy multiple tools and resources to foster collective action across boundaries to advance the common good and fuel change that addresses the grand challenges* of our time.

*Grand Challenges have significant consequences for the well-being of societies. They are novel, emergent, highly complex, and beyond the resources or knowledge of a single discipline, organization, or sector to address. Grand challenges do not lend themselves to simple or technical solutions. Single-sector actions to address these challenges often precipitate unanticipated and unintended consequences. Grand challenges are sometimes described in the literature as wicked problems or social messes.

Integrative leadership practices include (but may not be limited to)...

• Integrating intuition, reason and imagination in making decisions and deploying resources;

• Epitomizing ethical behavior and inter-cultural effectiveness;

• Anticipating and leveraging windows of opportunity;

• Building strategic relationships by communicating across differences

• Hosting dialogue, debate and deliberation;

• Moving through paradox and reflecting on actions;

• Designing inclusive structures and decision-making processes;

• Managing results and continuously assessing outcomes and impacts.

Six Propositions about Integrative Leadership:

1. Leadership is fundamental to making progress on long term grand challenges and addressing issues of the common good;

2. Often leadership is most needed at the places where conflicting world views, beliefs, and knowledge intersect;

3. The most powerful acts of leadership are those empowering others to make positive change;

4. Building broad capacity for acts of integrative leadership may have greater global impact than exclusively working with individuals in positions of formal authority;

5. Acts of leadership flow from person to person. When viewed this way, acts of leadership that address grand challenges become everyone’s responsibility and everyone’s opportunity.

6. Fostering collective action is a skill that can be learned.

Integrative Leadership is ......

leading across sectoral, cultural, and national boundaries to advance the common good.

CIL at a Glance video

Watch this quick clip about integrative leadership




"Integrative leaders truly celebrate, they cultivate, and they apply the strengths of those around them by example, engagement, and empowerment."

— Robert Bruininks, President Emeritus,   University of Minnesota