Collaborative Leadership ICW SIG Discussion Paper


This paper is designed as a contribution to the ICW Collaborative Leadership Special Interest Group and stems from two sources in B2B; association with the ISO Committee and understanding of where leadership and management activity is located within ISO 44001 & 44002 standard and the different contributions they make. Also, members of the B2B team have over 25 years of delivery of leadership and management development across most sectors.

The paper does not propose recommendations but aims to stimulate discussion on the topic and, foster greater commonality and clarity on what we mean by collaborative leadership and how it should be developed.

Leadership & Management References in ISO 44001 & 44002

The terms ‘leadership’ and ‘management’, and associated verbs and nouns, are significantly referenced across the Standard and the Guidance to the Standard ISO 44002– Table 1.

Word CountIn ISO 44001:2017In ISO 44002:2019OverallProportion
“Lead” Overall32437513%
“Manage” Overall28022250287%

What do we mean by Leadership & Management?

Much is written and said about leadership, what it is, what behaviours are associated with it and what it aims to deliver. Over the past 15 years or so, leadership has received massive attention in the literature – taking over the term ‘management’ which had dominated management thinking for the preceding 70+ years. We have summarised some common views in the literature on the difference between leadership and management.

“To manage means to bring out, to accomplish, to have charge of, responsibility for, to conduct.
Leading is influencing, guiding in direction, course, action and opinion. The difference may be summarized as activities of vision and judgement (effectiveness) versus activities of mastering routines (efficiency)” – Bennis and Nanus


Helping to make happen what’s supposed to happen anyway


Making happen what isn’t going to happen anyway – Richard Pascale

The Difference Between Leadership and Management

Recognising the Importance of Leadership & Management

Looking across the ISO Standards 44001/44002, and a reading of collaborative relationship management literature generally, it is clear that to make collaboration work effectively there is a need to both manage (to ensure delivery of agreed processes and structures to ensure adequate competence exists, and compliance to, and maintenance of, valued relationship management practices), and to lead (taking hearts and minds through change and development and, potentially, transformation, via behaviours that inspire, role model, support and hold out a vision etc).

Leadership and management call for different, complementary and, arguably, of equal value, behaviours and mind-sets. Chart 1 outlines a continuum of leadership and management purposes and the linked behaviours. Appendix 1 provides some illustrative behavioural and attitudinal differences between what people do and think when in leader and manager modes.
Chart 1: Leadership & Management Continuum © – Transactional & Transformational Leadership


‘Leadership’ has received significant attention over the past 15 years or more. The literature has virtually all centred upon the transformational end of the continuum. However, leadership and management behaviours and activity are both needed to bring about effective collaborative working. To borrow, and adapt, a quote from Tom Peters speaking of quality management (1982), he referred to ‘passion’ as behaviours and attitudes, and ‘system’ as the processes and structures that hold it all together.

‘Collaboration strategies fail for one of two reasons; you have a system but not a passion or you have a passion but no system’
We know organisations can fail to have either a ‘passion’ or a ’system’ (hence ISO 44001 as a corrective to ensure both are attended to). But his essential point nearly 40 years ago was you need both.

Leadership & Management: Is Leadership a Noun or a Verb?

We often use the words ‘leaders’ and ‘leading’ interchangeably. Some might argue that the ISO Standards do this too in places. However there is a significant difference between these two terms and it is critical to say what we mean. One of these words is a noun – leader i.e. a person or a position in the organizational structure. The other is a verb – to lead i.e. a behaviour or an action.

Suderman (2017) says that a person who is a leader (noun) does not necessarily lead (verb). Just because you have a role title does not mean you are actually leading. When we use the verb ‘leading’, we focus on the actions of leadership and not the role. Consequently the behaviours of leadership can, and should, come from any level in the organisation. A title does not make a leader a leader – the act(s) of leading make a leader a leader!


Guidance needs to ensure we disentangle the two and to be clear when we are talking of a senior role/position and the expectations of them due to their position, and leadership behaviours which can be expected from anyone. Frequently we see guidance that says ‘senior leaders should be trained’. I think this makes my point.
Suderman asks the question; ‘is leadership a noun or a verb? He says you can make your own choice. But in his world the importance is the verbing process!

So, What Does ISO 44001/44002 Say?

ISO 44001:17 identifies leadership as a key theme in nearly all sections of the standard. The guidance for implementing the standard (ISO 44002:19) provides references to best practices related to leadership. Clause a model of best practice adapted from the leadership literature which addresses 5 key areas of behavioural performance for leaders of collaboration. (Table 2). There are many other similar ‘transformational’ leadership models but they all tend to coalesce around a common set of key behaviours. Pick your favourite!

Table 2

Role model the way‘ – of collaboration by communicating via their behaviours the values of collaboration.
Inspire an agreed collaborative vision – of what a high performing collaborative operation could and should be like and getting the support of the team.
Challenge the status quo – undertaking and encouraging others to search for opportunities to improve collaboration and innovate beyond traditional role boundaries.
Enable the collaborative team to act on a “best for programme” basis – fostering collaborative working across teams, breaking down unnecessary barriers and challenging traditional role boundaries.
Encourage Others – recognizing contributions of others, celebrating successes and victories of collaborative working, facilitating others to provide leadership in their areas’.

Institute Collaborative Working: Collaborative Leader Competences

The ISO 44002:19 guidance document (para 8.45) also maps out the areas of competence for leaders of collaborative working based on research sponsored by the Institute for Collaborative Working and undertaken by Warwick Business School (WBS). WBS research identified views (principally from managers) on the attributes of effective leaders of collaboration. These are shown in order of criticality in Table 3 below. We have attempted to map the ICW/WBS attributes to the leadership behavioural model above. Together they seem to cover the bases of leadership. Importantly neither addresses the importance of management.

Table 3

WBS Skills Areas Role Model WayInspire Collaborative VisionChallenge the Status QuoEnable the TeamEncourage Others
Strategic thinkingYYY
Team orientation YYY
Committed collaboratorYYY
Effective communicationYYYY
Open to sharingYYY
Creative innovator Y
Empathetic to othersYY
Relationship builderYYY
Change agentYYY
Solution seekerY
Coach / mentorYYY

Collaborative Leadership: A Working Definition

Relationship partners will always need to arrive at a definition that works for them. We found the definition below (source lost) which we think covers most of what the models above suggest.

What is Collaborative Leadership?
Collaborative leadership is the intentional and skillful management of relationships that enables others to succeed individually while accomplishing a collective outcome

Collaborative leaders ably facilitate the involvement of their people to work as a team working toward a shared outcome on a manner that reflects collective ownership and responsibility

Post Script Case Study

In past years we supported a relationship to achieve BS11000 and later to ISO44001. The relationship had run for several years and over two separate years we conducted a review of collaboration working based on all the key elements (behavioural and systems and structures within ISO 44001), and to contract KPI performance. We discovered that managers were largely doing the right management things (appendix 1). Despite significant operational challenges, the joint processes and structures contributed significantly to keeping performance steady and largely on track. However, the culture

often remained resistant to change in some areas and the ‘passion’ for high-performing collaboration across all personnel was variable. This was seen as inhibiting higher-level performance. As part of the relationship review, we tested existing leadership behaviours to the leadership model in Table 2.

Guess what?
We found that whilst management behaviours were generally sound, leadership behaviours were very variable within and across sites, and, compared to a wider sample of results available to us, were below par in most leadership practice areas. The client and supplier relationship concluded that:

‘Dramatic improvement in contract results will only come from more and better collaborative leadership behaviours consistently seen across all sites’

B2B later delivered a collaborative leadership programme for key staff from sites across three continents.
What happened?

We don’t know! Work to ensure the learning was deployed in the work place was out of our scope of support and we know of no further evaluation to the original baseline results was carried out.


B2B drew a number of conclusions. Amongst them were:

  • The importance of making the connection between project deliverables and enablers of collaboration to demonstrate the linkage between the two.
  • Measuring leadership behaviours is critical in the mix of collaboration measures.
  • Systematically developing people to behave effectively as leaders of collaboration is an essential follow through – why else measure in the first place?
  • Leadership development should not be confined to those in the most senior positions.
  • Evaluating both behavioural improvements and, importantly the impact on business results, and taking action afterwards, is critical if collaboration is to be professionally managed.

References and further information is available from B2B