The Bridging Leadership Framework

The concept behind the program is the Bridging Leadership Framework, which is a theory on leadership for attaining social objectives and outcomes. Key to the leadership concept is the capacity of the individual to move from a personal understanding and ownership of a social issue to a collective action to resolve the issue. There are three key elements in the act of bridging leadership.

One segment of the process is focused on self-awareness and involves developing a sense of personal Ownership of a societal problem and the response to it. The bridging leader acknowledges the range of his assets (i.e. values, education, experiences, family background, etc.) which when accumulated comprise his leadership capital. Knowing his capital, the leader examines how these assets are put to use to benefit the wider society. This brings the leader to a deeper understanding of the societal problem, its underlying causes and his possible contribution to it. The analysis brings to fore the need to take a personal response, and commit one’s resources to the resolution of this issue. Without this personal commitment, collaborative action with other stakeholders will not prosper when confronted with immediate challenges.

Another aspect of bridging is moving from the self to forging relationships with those who have a stake on the problem. Building Co-Ownership involves getting stakeholders together to deepen their understanding of the issue, to recognize how they are part of the problem and the solution, and to acknowledge the need for collective response. This part involves convening various parties to the issue (including those who are in conflict with others), facilitating constructive dialogue to arrive at a common understanding of the issue, managing conflicts and coming up with a collaborative response. The process can be fraught with tension and difficulties as interests compete with one another. But in building common ground, trust is built among diverse stakeholders. Giving due regard to this aspect enables the leader to expand the ownership of the problem from himself to a group, paving the way for collective action.

A third part of bridging is Co-Creation, or the actual work of collaboration. Here, the commitment to work collaboratively is translated into clear goals, outputs and targets that will lead to the resolution of the problem. Innovative plans and programs are drawn by the collective, guided by the principles of transparency, accountability, participation and resource-sharing. In pursuing the programs, the group tries to attain their common vision through concrete mechanisms and strategies. Maintaining the commitment of the stakeholders is important as resolving the societal issue may take some time. The sustainability of the initiative also ultimately rests on the capacity of the leader to nourish himself and renew his commitment to his personal mission.
Each part described can be a starting point for action. The process is non-linear and iterative, requiring the leader to constantly review each segment to ensure sustainability of the process.

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