Barbara Coe

​Consultant and Coach


Our changing times require a new type of leadership -- especially for fostering sustainable organizations and communities -- which involves a whole raft of stakeholders with different views! My Ph.D research showed how leaders succeed in such complex arenas, including three main elements:

1. Collaborative Vision. Together, people identify their desired future. People care about the goals when they set them themselves, working with others. People must focus in the same direction or they will pull and tugg and get nowhere. Conflicts are usually about how to get somewhere, not about the “somewhere.” When people work together, they usually find a shared vision.

2.  Linking Communication. Effective leaders make sure that information about the situation is accurate and widely shared. This empowers people and avoids mistrust that arises from closed-door decision making or misinformation. Communication is two-way; these leaders listen more than they talk, and are interested in others' views. They engage in supportive, not defensive, communication, which is respectful, empathetic and egalitarian and focuses on facts not judgment, assumptions or preconceptions. (Gibb, 2007)

3.  Evocative Leaders, who cultivate other leaders -- who then engage others, all then working toward a shared vision. These leaders care more about the outcomes than about their personal rewards. They're authentic and not arrogant. They're focused on aspirations and open to ideas, suggestions, resources, challenges and setbacks. They don’t insist that things go their way, aware that any endeavor involves ups and downs. They adapt and maintain their equanimity in the face of difficulties, acknowledge when things go smoothly and express gratitude for effort and success.

Leaders using this Open Focus approach can be more successful in every aspect of their lives, make the difference they want to make in the world and lead fulfilling lives.

4. Structural Dynamics. Later, learning about the role of structural dynamics, I added this element. Now leaders who understand and use this knowledge, vastly improve their ability to accelerate change. This is discussed in the 2nd link here. 


Coe, B.A.  “Fostering Democracy and Good Governance,” Public Administration Times International Supplement,  March, 2008.
____“Engaging Communities: Albania as an Example,” Public Administration Times, February, 2008.
____"How Structural Conflicts Stymie Reinventing Government," Public Administration Review, Vol. 57, No. 2, March/April, 1997.
 ____ “Open Focus: A Community Development Model,” Journal of the  Community Development Society, Spring, 1991.
____“Open Focus: Implementing Projects in Multi-Organizational Settings, International Journal of Public Administration, Vol. 11, No. 4, 1988.
Gibb, J.R. “Defensive Communication.” Article first published online: FEB, 2006, DOI:10.111/j.1460256. 6.1961.tb00344. x Issue. Journal of Communication, Volume 11, Issue 3, pages 141-148, September, 1961.