Our Philosophy

Beacon Leadership Collaborative’s mission is captured in our tagline: unleashing your leadership, transforming community.  We are looking to build capacity for leadership and we are committed to transforming the leadership culture in organizations and in the public square.  

There are other places to go for academic study, theories or abstractions about leadership.  We offer demanding, participatory professional development workshops and coaching designed to expand participants’ capacity to effect change.  They are about building the skills, sensibilities, courage, and agility for transformative leadership.

The Collaborative’s work is rooted in four “big ideas.” The first two owe their DNA to the work of Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  The third traces its roots to the work of Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. And the fourth, the key to our pedagogy and approach to teaching and learning, comes from the Tavistock tradition.


  • Although usually used interchangeably, “leadership” and “authority” are vastly different. In government and institutions of all stripes, we authorize people we call leaders to provide direction, protection and order, and reward them with a title and recognition.  Leaders, on the other hand, mobilize people to effect change, which is anything but safe, orderly or comfortable. It entails empowering us to enter unfamiliar territory, experiment, improvise, and be willing to risk dead ends, false starts, and missteps. 


  • In like fashion, we tend to overlook the critical distinction between “technical” and “adaptive” challenges, the former being plentiful and easy to identify, the latter being more subtle, more difficult and threatening to confront.  Once understood, this distinction makes it possible to address the different challenges appropriately and, in turn, expand your repertoire of effective responses to those different challenges.


  • Through the powerful “Immunity to Change” exercise, you will explore your own reactions to change and uncertainty.  You can’t hope to provide leadership for change without accounting for your own pattern of reacting to situations that require change and without appreciating what you’re asking and provoking when you ask people to change.  If there were nothing else in our work, this exercise and the protocols for continued learning and growth that follow from it would make you a more effective leader.


  • Our programs focus on enhancing the skills and agility of program participants, not on understanding case studies of leadership failures and successes.  Borrowing from the Tavistock tradition, our talented and experienced faculty relies, not on case studies, but “case-in-point,” plumbing our program participants’ experience and what’s happening in real time within the group. Beyond appreciating the power of real-time learning, we know that it takes practice, experimentation and time. Our exercises and discussions are built for this kind of long-term, deep learning and growth.  

What Can Beacon Leadership Collaborative do for you?

We will provide a protocol to identify a personal adaptive leadership challenge and create a plan and the faculty and peer support team to help you address it. Similarly, you will identify your own immunity to change and develop a plan and support team to address it.

While the learning begins with a workshop in a retreat setting, that is but one step of a journey that is designed for behavior modification.  Workshops extend over many months and our alumni network is designed for continuous learning. With a support team, you will learn by doing, practicing, experimenting and, over time, step by step, expanding your repertoire of skills and both the capacity and the will to exercise positive leadership.


Beyond the normal program evaluation protocols, we are working with our College Collaborator partners to develop two sets of metrics to assess our programs’ “value added.”  We will measure the sustainable (and ideally expanding) long-term benefits of our programs to our graduates.  And we will create a way to measure the impact of our graduates and our programs on organizational and governance culture.  We anticipate and are committed to measurable results for our program participants and, in turn, for the community.

Because of our faculty’s passion for public life and because most other leadership programs are too expensive and not designed for those working in the public square, Beacon Leadership Collaborative is singularly focused on public servants, community organizers, those in community organizations, and all those aspiring to better leadership in our public life.  


The Collaborative is organized as a nonprofit under Section 501(c)3 or the IRS code so that we can raise funds from individuals, corporations and foundations that are required so that we can keep program fees within the reach of the public servants and would-be public servants we seek to serve.