Generative Leadership

Generative Leadership

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Term2.png Generative Leadership
Generative Leadership is a form of organizational management that fosters innovation, organizational adaption and high performance over time. Traditional perspectives on leadership are based on leader’s individual characteristics, whereas generative leadership focuses on interactions between leaders and group members.[1] Generative leaders view learning communities as complex, changing systems and are focused on:[2]

• Deepening their personal knowledge;

• Engaging in personal reflection;

• Promoting professional conversations;

• Harnessing creativity and innovation.


Toolkit.png Toolkit: The Generative Process

Fundamental Elements of Generative Leadership

Following are the fundamental elements of generative leadership and guidelines for practice.[3]

The Role of the Leader

The leader must challenge participants to recognize the lenses through which they view the organization and any personal biases or influences that may impact their thinking. Illuminating these points of view before delving into significant dialogue promotes self-awareness and can help to lay the groundwork for generative thinking and innovative solutions.

Clearly establishing the ground rules for discourse fosters a comfort level for participants. Group members are more likely to offer unique or non-traditional options if they are assured that all ideas are appreciated.

Focused Listening and Reflection

Appreciating the diversity of innovative ideas and opinions relies on focused listening. Furthermore, ensuring that as many fresh ideas and as much new information as possible are presented is a first step in identifying innovative options. In order to distill and appreciate the options that have been offered, leaders and participants need time to reflect on the inputs and discussion.

Emergent Patterns

With opportunities identified through focused listening and time for exploration of ideas through reflection, group members may now see and sense emerging patterns and relationships. The leader facilitates dialogue that illuminates these future options and clarifies and paraphrases to enhance understanding. “Cogeneration” of an organization’s future strategies and innovations through the generative process produces an ownership and a collective sense of purpose.

Acting with Intention

The leader guides group members in identifying steps that can be taken rapidly to pursue the shared reality they hope to create for their organization.


  1. Surie, Gita and Hazy, James K. (2006). Generative leadership: Nurturing innovation in complex. In: Generative leadership: Nurturing innovation in complex systems. E:CO Issue Vol. 8 No. 4 2006 pp. 13-26