Collective leadership and networking action

A seminar where accomplished strategists Petra Kuenkel and Steve Wadell outlined how their transformational change theories can aid implementation of the SDGs.


Hosted together with CEMUS, this seminar featured talks by Petra Kuenkel from the Collective Leadership Institute and Steve Wadell from Networking Action. Their talks outlined the “collective leadership approach” and the “societal change systems” framework and was followed by an interactive discussion with the audience. Abstracts of their work and short biographies are below.

Petra Kuenkel – The Collective Leadership Approach as a fractal for large systems change in collaboration 

The lecture explores the issue of leading transformational change for SDG implementation on the basis of a patterned approach to systemic change that enhances aliveness in socio-ecological systems. Understanding such an approach may turn out to be a key leverage point for shifting dysfunctional patterns of human interactions that have led to complex and wicked global challenges. It outlines how core insights from systems and complexity theory as well as success factors extracted from local and international multi-stakeholder collaboration can advance a new approach towards leading transformational change collectively. Conceptualizing leadership as the collaborative capacity of a collective of diverse actors across institutional boundaries in a patterned network approach is at the cornerstone for leveraging goal no 17 on global partnerships.

Steve Wadell – Developing Societal Change Systems: addressing large systems change challenges

Developing Societal Change Systems: to address large systems change challenges involving many, many people, geographies as large as the global, and transformation requires new ways of organizing. “Societal Change Systems” and associated tools support this organizing, along with the organizing innovation of “Societal Change Systems Stewards”. These insights arose from looking at the global energy change activities, and is the focus of a recent article: Waddell, Steve. 2016. “Societal Change Systems:  A framework and tool to address wicked problems.” Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 52(4):422-49.

About Petra Kuenkel

Petra Kuenkel is an accomplished author and a leading strategic advisor to pioneering international multi-stakeholder initiatives that tackle common goods and sustainability issues. As a Member of the Club of Rome and the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Collective Leadership Institute, she promotes the scaling-up of leadership and collaboration skills for change agents from the private sector, public sector and civil society. She is a thought leader on re-inventing leadership as a collective competence and her practical work is grounded in living systems and complexity science.  She has a profound background in conceptualizing leadership development in multinational corporations and in dialogic change as an approach to transformation in complex social systems. Amongst many other publications, Petra Kuenkel is the author of the ground-breaking publication “The Art of Leading Collectively”, published in the US.

About Steve Wadell

For over 30 years Steve has focused on multi-stakeholder large systems change to address critical issues. His does this as a researcher, consultant, educator, and through personal leadership with a range of clients and partners globally. He has a PhD in sociology and an MBA. He is author of many publications, including the books Societal Learning and Change: Innovation with Multi-Stakeholder Strategies (2005); Global Action Networks: Creating Our Future Together (2011) and Change for the Audacious: a doers’ guide to large systems change for a flourishing future (2016). Steve is a Canadian-American living in Boston.