Distributed Leadership

Leadership for this movement is bigger than any one person or institution. Its success depends on the shared vision and work of individuals, organizations, and systems. When leaders align their agendas, networks, and resources in support of a shared goal, they have the power to make lasting, significant improvements in the lives of children and families.

In order to achieve significant change for children facing adversity, the field needs innovative leadership. Individuals, organizations, and systems need to actively use science to think outside the box and drive new ideas. The following are essential qualities and behaviors of this type of distributed leadership:

  • Constructive dissatisfaction with current best practices. The desire to take action in order to achieve breakthrough outcomes.
  • Intentional risk taking. Individuals, organizations, and systems utilize their knowledge of science to explore new, yet-to-be-tested ideas aimed at improving long-term outcomes for children facing adversity and their caregivers.
  • Failure-inspired learning. Failure is necessary for learning and innovating. Avoiding failure leads to missed opportunities to learn from mistakes and explore new ways of working.
  • Outcome orientation. Taking risks and learning in the context of achieving significant impact can only happen when there is clarity about the goal or outcome. An outcome orientation is the explicit exercise of starting with the end in mind. It provides direction for key choice points along the journey.
  • Sharing knowledge. Leadership at various levels requires a common frame and language. Collecting and sharing data in a reciprocal fashion as part of a connected learning community supports continued learning, as well as a sense of continuity of purpose for current, emerging, and future leaders of the field. Capturing lessons learned and sharing of what did not work is a critical aspect.
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