Welcome to this introduction to the workshops that we deliver on ‘Reimagining Leadership’, updated for February 2024


The content of the mini-workshop builds on my previously published books but, in particular, the Selfless Leader (Brookes 2016) and the volume that I co-edited with Keith Grint, The New Public Leadership Challenge (Brookes and Grint 2010). Given the limitations of the duration of our short workshop, we can only touch the surface. You may have access to these publications as essential or desirable reading, but in this introduction – and the supporting pre-session material – we aim to give a sense of the key messages and challenges of leading in the public interest and to provide space for you to think about applying your learning to leadership practice.


I have updated my mini portal for 2024.

Two important public leadership crises have brought the challenges of public leadership to the fore. Although these will not be a formal part of our session this year, the circumstances of these should be in our minds and, if necessary, drawn on during our sessions as they relate to our ongoing interactive discussions.

In both instances, I have included two of my posts on the Discussion Forum section of this portal:


  1. The Impact of Covid-19 and the Public Leadership Response. This summarises my book which was published in the summer of last year. I was the sole editor and author of four chapters of the Research Handbook of Public Leadership: Re-imagining Public Leadership in a Post-pandemic Paradigm.

  2. The National Post Office Leadership Disgrace. In this post, I ask question “Reflecting on the lessons of why some seemingly excellent institutions’ leaders turn evil?“. The recent ITV series “Mr Bates vs the Post Office” has shed light on the problem of toxic leadership at the highest levels of the UK Post Office. But is it just the Post Office, or does it illustrate how insensitive the Government has also been instead of just being out of touch?

It would be interesting for you to read these two posts



In the Selfless Leader, I said that we need to think differently about leadership:


The individual is the focus of most leadership studies; from earliest times, theories have focused on what it is that makes individuals good leaders ….. we need to think differently about leadership …… it is about collective activity by communities or groups of people.



In today’s more complex and global world, leadership is much more than just about leading through the line.


Collective leadership asks the intelligent questions and encourages collective others within networks to consider the solutions. It favours leading-in-the-round rather than leading through the line.



In our workshops, our main focus is on collective leadership. Leaders from a range of public-facing or non-public-serving institutions work towards a shared vision in improving economic and social well-being within a complex and changing environment (Brookes and Grint 2010: 1). We can build on relatively new approaches, such as place-based and integrated working, but more is needed. We need a change of mindset in which the style of leadership embraces and champions relational skills as much as it values responsibility and accountability for desired outcomes; for collective leaders, the overall goal is to create and demonstrate socially desirable outcomes which are in the public interest. This is the essence of selfless leadership. In the workshop, we will explore whether this is an impossible ideal.


In our work on developing future leaders we introduce the approach of Leading through 360° Intelligent Networks, Knowledge and Skills (LINKS360)®, exploring collective leadership through a new conceptual framework. Given the limitations of time, we cannot explore the framework in detail, although an outline is included in an interactive PDF workbook. This workbook is available to workshop participants as part of their pre-session activity, along with e-learning activities.


We will briefly explore the differences between collective leadership and traditional management at a practical level but then consider the more operational Collective Leadership Model based on our concept of COMPASS360 leadership comprised of seven collective leadership values.


Finally, we will consider how leaders can help to create a climate (in the short term) and influence a culture (in the long term) of innovation and creativity. We will consider the ‘oft-neglected’ “How?” question of leadership focusing our efforts on how you as a leader can encourage teams to step up to the plate in contributing to, and delivering, a collective vision focused on socially desired outcomes. Our final point to make in this introduction is a critical one.

The root of what is so often called a ‘leadership crisis’ is often about the degeneration of values where greed and self-interest can often overshadow shared values. Times of crisis require vision, courage and innovation.


In today’s more complex and global world, leadership is much more than just about leading through the line.

Collective leadership asks the intelligent questions and encourages collective others within networks to consider the solutions. It favours leading-in-the-round rather than leading through the line.