Beyond a leader-centered approach: Practicing leadership capabilities for collaboration

Collaborative Leadership Laboratory

Over 30 students from various degree programs across NYU Wagner deepened their capacity for impactful leadership through the Fall 2017 Collaborative Leadership Laboratory, Co-Lead Lab. The program emphasizes the value of moving beyond leader-centered models to engage with others in leadership work that leverages impact from collaboration. Piloted successfully in early 2017, the Fall Co-Lead Lab program offered a set of one-day experiential workshops where students practiced leadership capabilities to further advance their ability to make social change. 

Program participants explored the power of personal narratives and the role of identity in shaping their leadership within organizations and with communities. One participant said, “Not only did I find the tools and specific applications that I was looking for, but I also found myself reflecting on my personal and professional relationships.” Led by expert practitioners and community leaders, the workshops had a unique theme for students to practice and build their collective leadership toolkit. Urban Bush Women led “Entering, Exiting, and Building Community” focusing on deepening approaches to community engagement, using tools like theater games, creative writing, and movement exercises. GoingUpstream led two workshops. The first, “The Art of Hosting and Dialogue Techniques,” offered spaces to practice facilitation skills to support generative dialogue and group decision-making. Then, in “Social Identities, Power, and Generative Conversations,” students practiced how to engage conversations that bridge differences constructively. Finally, Synergos led “Systems Thinking: Application of the U Theory” on problem-solving strategies to address counterproductive organizational habits and find entry points to tackle systemic challenges.

Students interested in a deeper reflection on their public service leadership were able to complement the workshops with systematic inquiry by registering for the NYU Wagner course Transformative Participation for Democratic Practice. “This was a really interesting class, not just because of the expertise of Professor Sonia Ospina and the various guest speakers at the workshop, but also because of the opportunity to learn from my classmates and think about ways to employ the lessons learned in my area of influence. I highly highly recommend this course,” said a participant.

The Co-Lead Lab amplifies NYU Wagner’s impact on leadership theory and practice and deepens students’ leadership capabilities for public service.