Overarching theme: Collaborative leadership
The need to build efficient partnerships to address complex issues is not a new idea, having been explored globally in various disciplines. The constant relevance of the study of partnerships however reveals ongoing issues with their sustainability, resourcing, overarching goals and actual machinery. Within this, leadership, and specifically collaborative leadership, is often raised as a major factor to produce impact and generate visible and measurable outcomes, depart from siloed systems, and trigger organizational or cultural change. This is very relevant to the field of law enforcement and public health, where systemic siloed practices, policies and budgets have often failed to address complex social issues.
The primary goal of collaborative leadership is to obtain effective and efficient results across a wide range of supra-organizational boundaries. As a result, collaborative leaders spend a significant portion of their time building and maintaining relationships, handling conflicts constructively, and sharing or negotiating control and oversight with external stakeholders or community leaders. Leadership in collaborative endeavours significantly departs from
a traditional, hierarchical organization[s] in that participation is voluntary and
egalitarian and often entails cooperation by organizations with different cultures and agendas.
Partnership leaders, accordingly, often lack formal control over members and their actions.
Jeffrey A. Alexander, Maureen E. Comfort, Bryan J. Weiner, Richard Bogue. Leadership in Collaborative Community Health Partnerships. Non profit management and leadership journal. 2003, 12:2 (159-175).
Such sharing of responsibilities, especially across the fields of policing, criminal justice and health, presents challenges as far as the daily job routine is concerned, as well as in the design of co-opted evaluation measures, mixed methods analysis, goal sharing and shared visions.
Subtle cultural shifts are taking place globally in the policy underpinnings of law enforcement and health agencies, who have traditionally seen their role as siloed. However, the historically specialized fields are increasingly beginning to understand the inextricable links between public safety and public health. In part, this has resulted from deliberations about health practitioners as procurers of public safety, as much as the role of police as public health interventionists. At the epicenter of such deliberations, the role of leaders and managers is essential to bringing a new organizational ‘flavour’ to business as usual, shaping debates and shifting policies and practices towards more integrated practices.