Cultivating Leadership Excellence: The Power of Building Engaged Leadership Communities in Big Organisations

By Ionela Spinu  |  22 November 2023

In an era of hybrid work models, rapid technological advancement and hyper-complexity, fostering communities of leaders is crucial. Leaders of today are faced with complex challenges that come without a blueprint solution and require diverse perspectives to be tackled effectively.

Business colleagues at a rooftop talking

In the ever-evolving landscape of large organisations, leaders at the forefront must adopt a different perspective on driving organisational change and in this context, leadership demands openness, vulnerability, and a willingness to admit uncertainty.  

And for leaders who are drowning in the minutiae of everyday firefighting, last-minute changes, and managing the competing demands of strategic visioning and team rallying, finding time to invest in their own development can fall right at the bottom of the priority list.   

But here’s why you shouldn’t make that mistake. Recent research from Josh Bersin and BetterUp suggests that companies who invest in Leadership Development are “3x more likely to exceed their financial targets, 12x more likely to have retain and engage employees and 5x more likely to innovate effectively”.  

Companies with great leadership development practices exceed financial targets, have an empowered workforce, engage and retain employees and innovate effectively

So, how do we begin? 

The traditional model of leaders possessing all the answers is no longer sustainable. Instead, a new approach, facilitated by tools like Appreciative Inquiry, Systems Thinking, and Courageous Conversations, is needed.
These tools not only initiate meaningful conversations but also nurture inclusive leadership behaviours, build cultural curiosity and accelerating a sense of belonging.

In our Immersive learning experiences at Emerging World, we see that introducing leaders to these transformative tools is key to unlocking and creating long-lasting change.  

Appreciative Inquiry, for instance, takes a strengths-based approach, shifting the focus from problems to possibilities, thereby reinforcing relationships and enhancing team dynamics. 

Let’s say you’re looking to build a psychologically safe space for your leaders. As a means of creating such space for leaders to share openly, engaging them with positive questions such as: “When have you felt the most excited and engaged in the organisation?” will stimulate interaction and create a foundation for profound learning. This affirmative approach not only fosters enduring transformation but also generates the energy and commitment critical for significant change (and contrasts with the problem-focused, deficits-based orientation often adopted).

Immersive learning experiences serve as a powerful tool for aiding communities of leaders in navigating intricate challenges. 

These experiences revolve around real-world scenarios that closely mirror the inherent complexities leaders face in their roles. Consequently, the learning process becomes highly experiential, encouraging participants to apply newfound tools and frameworks.

Within immersive learning sessions, active engagement is emphasised, fostering collaborative problem-solving, adaptability and inclusive decision-making. Furthermore, built-in feedback mechanisms and reflection sessions, are embedded in the experiences to enhance the depth of understanding when it comes to complex challenges. This approach not only supports shifts in mindset and facilitates behaviour change but also empowers leaders to emerge with renewed perspectives. 

Some benefits of engaging leaders in this way are: 

Knowledge Sharing:

By providing an open space for leaders to share experiences, organisations facilitate a dynamic learning environment. Leaders have the space to leverage the collective wisdom of their peers, accelerating their learning curve and foster a culture of continuous learning and development. In this space, they not only learn a new set of tools, approaches and strategies but get to put these into practice ensuring they enhance their skillsets and stay agile in a rapidly evolving business space.   

Another key aspect is the diversity of experiences and perspectives generated as leaders from different departments or regions share their unique insights. This sharing enriches the pool of knowledge within the community which ultimately fuels innovation.  


Similar to knowledge sharing, there is something almost magical that happens when you get a properly supported diverse group of leaders in a room (virtual or in-person) and put a challenge in front of them. Approaching complex challenges from multiple angles leads to the generation of novel ideas, sparking innovation in how challenges are conceptualised and addressed. 

Involving leaders in the problem-solving process fosters a sense of ownership and commitment. When leaders contribute to the creation of solutions, there is a higher likelihood of successful implementation as they are more invested in the outcomes.

Resilience Building:

A supportive leadership community is also one that provides a psychologically safe environment and promotes emotional support as leaders navigate challenges and uncertainties. The right ideal mix of competencies and emotional support can also bring the added benefit of peer-to-peer mentoring and having this support in the face of adversity enables resilience and adaptability among leadership communities. 

As such, combining both competencies with the emotional support needed to overcome complex challenges become a powerful antidote for leaders as they can act as mentors to each other and feel less alone in their journey.

Reflection Time:

Having the opportunity to pause and reflect is a powerful tool for performance improvement among leaders. Reflection on actions, decisions and strategies leads to improvement and increased effectiveness as well as invites valuable insights that can inform future decision-making processes.

According to research published by the Harvard Business School NOM Unit, reflecting on learning activities can enhance performance by up to 23% and can also aid with knowledge consolidation. This should entice us all to carve out some more reflection time in our diaries!  


Seeing it in action 

In a recent 3-day learning experience hosted by Emerging World, leaders from a globally distributed tech organisation, witnessed impactful ‘AHA’ moments and found immense value in the community of leaders that was fostered.

The gift of relationship building, the sense of belonging and perspective shifts were recognised as invaluable assets, providing leaders with a supportive network to navigate challenges together.

As the business landscape undergoes rapid changes, investing in the creation and nurturing of communities of leaders is imperative. These communities not only empower individual leaders but also significantly contribute to organisational growth, resilience, and long-term success.  

They serve as catalysts for innovation, collaboration, and a culture of continuous improvement. 

If you’re keen on unlocking the potential of communities of engagement among your leaders,
reach out to us!