Research report  and summary about Pioneering Collaborative Leadership, an experimental initiative testing an innovative development approach for public service leaders in Scotland. Published in July 2017, it covers its first 18 months and includes a case study from the East Lothian Partnership.


This report is about Pioneering Collaborative Leadership (PCL), an experimental initiative testing an innovative development approach for public service leaders in Scotland in the practice of collaborative leadership and public service innovation. PCL provides skilled facilitators who work alongside partnerships on ‘live’ collaborative challenges. Their facilitation focuses on building the capacity for individuals and groups to reflect and learn about collaborative leadership, as they do it.

Five icons showing the learning logs’ five categories of learning and action. They are: 1) A hand with a plant labelled learning. 2) Five small figures labelled collaboration. 3) A paper aeroplane labelled innovation. 4) A thought cloud labelled reflection/question. 5) Three figures, one waving a flag, labelled action.

PCL is part of a programme of work by Workforce Scotland, which is a collaboration to develop the workforce across public services. Workforce Scotland comes under the auspices of the Scottish Leaders Forum, a network of senior leaders from central and local government, public services and the third sector.

The report covers the early experience of delivering PCL over its first 18 months, from March 2015 until November 2016. It builds on a prior report published last year about its initial development phase, and the learning from that collaborative experience.

PCL worked with East Lothian Partnership as it considered how better to support vulnerable families in Musselburgh as part of a place-based approach. It is the most extended period for a site so far – from March 2015 until December 2016 – and provides a rich illustration of the PCL approach in practice. The facilitators supported Musselburgh Total Place to strengthen its collaborative leadership and work creatively to explore innovative approaches.

The material presented in the report illustrates that PCL is generating a rich source of insight and learning about the conditions for collaborative leadership and the support it can offer. This includes emerging learning about a set of local ‘minimal conditions’ for collaboration that support PCL’s entry into sites and the importance of certain personal qualities in the facilitators.

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Author: Nick Bland

Publication date: July 2017

Publication type: Research report

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