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Collaborative Leaders Lab

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As a public administrator, you rarely make decisions alone. You may have great ideas, but lack the authority to implement them on your own. Our May 2016 Leadership Lab will help you develop the collaborative skills you need to lead in partnership with others — both inside and outside your organization.

In today's environment, with demands for local government services growing at the same time resources are often shrinking, even the most collaborative individuals and organizations need new tools to enhance their skills. Complex problems require more advanced and sophisticated collaboration, stronger relationships and a long-term focus.

This highly interactive program will introduce challenging concepts to help you develop a better understanding of when collaboration is necessary and appropriate, how to successfully collaborate within your organization, and foundational ideas to support stronger collaboration with regional partners.

Collaborative Leadership Lab Objectives:

  • Outline the latest research on collaborative leadership, problem solving, practical methods and successful applications.
  • Discuss interest-based collaborative problem solving.
  • Experience a proven simulation that immerses participants in real world challenges.
  • Apply collaborative thinking.

Location and Registration:

If you have questions about the Collaborative Leadership Lab or are interested in offering customized training opportunities for your agency, please contact Jonathan Morris at 816-701-8306.



Participants read "Getting to Yes" and prepare short written responses regarding a collaborative challenge in your organization or between organizations, jurisdictions and groups. The challenge should be one that cannot be resolved through a decision by someone in authority nor should it be narrowly defined in terms of an interpersonal conflict.

  • In light of your challenge, what ideas are most important to you in "Getting to Yes?" 
  • In light of your challenge, what guidance in "Getting to Yes" do you think will be most difficult to follow?

Participants will be asked to bring a current problem or collaborative effort to the session that can be applied to the learning principles.


  • Discuss your unique collaboration challenges and goals with experts and peers.
  • Hear about the 10 most compelling ideas concerning collaboration today.
  • Learn about the skillset of the collaborative leader.
  • Bridge the gap between political acceptability and administrative sustainability.
  • Learn about adaptive work.
  • Evaluate your own collaborative leadership strengths.


  • Participate in interest-based collaborative problem-solving training.
  • Think about collaboration as a strategy and learn when to collaborate and when not to collaborate.
  • Learn the skillset of the collaborative problems solver.
  • Learn a six-step process to solving complex problems collaboratively.

and Thursday

Participate in a unique simulation pioneered at the Harvard Negotiation Project and the Maxwell School at Syracuse University allowing you to develop and enhance your collaborative leadership and problem-solving skills. Expert coaches will provide guidance and feedback throughout.


  • Debrief and discuss lessons learned from the workshop and how this will impact your collaborative work.
  • Connect the simulation experience with the evaluation of your collaborative leadership strengths and your collaboration challenges on the job.
  • Analyze lessons learned to take back with you on the job.

One month
after the

Reconvene with workshop facilitators and peers for a discussion and coaching session regarding your collaboration goals and challenges.


  • John Nalbandian, Ph.D., is professor emeritus in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas, where he has taught since 1976. Nalbandian teaches human resources management and specializes in politics and administration in local government. He has presented to and consulted with public officials across the country and in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Armenia. 
  • Rosemary O'Leary, Ph.D., is the Edwin O. Stene distinguished professor with the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas following a 24 year career teaching at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Bloomington. O'Leary is the 2014 winner of the Dwight Waldo award, given by the American Society for Public Administration for "persons who have made outstanding contributions to the professional literature of public administration over an extended career." Her current research is on collaboration as a management and leadership strategy.