28.09.2018500 Words

WeQ – Collective Leadership

Share this article

This 500 words on Leadership Development is for all leaders and managers who are interested in reflecting on how WeQ beats IQ and EQ.

“Can we prepare the leaders of tomorrow for the change of tomorrow? We have no choice but to try.” – Professor Michael Genovese


A shift in leadership development is needed to encourage companies and teams to be more effective and play to their collective strength rather than focus on individual leaders.

Up until this point, the main thrust in leadership development has focused on the individual rather than the collective whole of an organisation. We ask the question – What does tomorrow’s leadership world look like?

In order to determine and answer this question we need to go back and review what has happened in leadership development up to this point. Only by going back and reflecting on what has come before can we understand what needs to happen going forward. The future is in the past. As Steve Jobs once said, ‘you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”.

From about 1945 to 1970, the IQ of a leader was a measure of their effectiveness. This trait based approach focused on the competency of a leader, placing their IQ as an attribute which could be developed and learnt. Mensa scores were used as a badge of honour and being called ‘average-IQ’ was a backhanded insult.

Roll on the years, particularly in the 1970s, and the focus shifted to seeing leadership as contextual, with a spotlight being on the situation, the relationship and the complexity of the challenge.

In the nineties there was a further shift with relationships being put into the core of leadership development. Within a number of decades we had seen the shift from IQ to EQ or Emotional Intelligence.


“Collective clarity of purpose is the invisible leader.”

Mary Parker Follett


Leadership development never stands still and is challenged once again with the rise of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ and in specific with AI. In the last twenty years there has been a greater understanding that leadership needs to permeate throughout the whole of an organisation and not just sit within the remit of the leaders. A company needs to embrace high levels of engagement and empowerment.

And here comes the seismic shift. EQ now becomes WeQ. No longer does there need to be a focus on heroic individual leaders. Instead there is a need for collective leadership, for leaders that build and manage networks beyond corporate boundaries, and using these for a greater good. Collective leadership is involving leaders, followers and a shared challenge or purpose that requires collaboration.

But why is WeQ so important to develop in this day and age? WeQ is about working together. Quite often companies have disparate teams, bonded by a common business purpose but physically sitting in different offices, cities or even countries.


World teams now have to have such a grasp on their WeQ, so they can pull together as a team, understanding they are strongest when together and utilising their common strength and goals. Today, leaders are forced to see the whole picture of their organisation in its ecosystem. Leaders have end-to-end responsibility and working with various stakeholders to achieve what is best for customers or clients.

How can a leader achieve a collective purpose?

Company structures are rapidly changing especially when compared to years ago. They are less structured, more diverse, and less hierarchical.

We are moving from waterfall models to chapters, guilds and tribes. Leadership is not ones problem alone but common. The key to success is developing a collective leadership mind-set and culture, despite the organisation structure.  Leadership has to exist within multi-person relationships.

CLP’s Leadership Development’s role is to nurture collective leadership. Leadership Development’s purpose is strategic and helps organisations to change their organisation culture and individuals’ mind-sets.


CLP is working currently with over 1000 leaders of one of Germany’s biggest employer to change their current culture towards an ‘agile- culture’ with the help of an increased WeQ in their leaders.

We are crossing hierarchies and departments to bring together leaders that share their stories, planning together their change actions, expanding their networks and shifting mind-sets towards We, away from Me.


Dr Marcus Gottschalk




CLP is constantly evolving Leadership Development and publishes 500 words periodically that reflect CLP’s experiences, research and thought leadership. 500words@clp.world

>> download your PDF version here

Share this article