We wrote the book on Collaborative Leadership!

Welcome to the Institute for Collaborative Leadership ... a resource for progressive public leaders & partnerships.

About Us

Our History

The Institute for Collaborative Leadership was founded in 1992 as a nonprofit national research, training and consulting center, supporting collaborations and collaborative leaders that benefit the lives of children, families and communities. 

Original Board members included: Dr. Willard Boyd (then president of the Chicago Field Museum), Dr. Paul Houston (executive director of the American Association of School Administrators), Toni Smith (then managing partner at Spencer Stuart), David Wilhelm (later chair of the Democratic National Committee), and Dr. Hank Rubin (then head of Roosevelt University's Public Administration Program).

Our founding mission: "... to construct a rigorous knowledge-base and understanding of collaboration so that education and public sector leaders can learn to build, manage, measure and repair collective efforts that are essential for achieving progressive public outcomes."

ICL improves collaboration and shapes the larger conversation. Our international contribution to understanding leadership, collaboration and collective impact is documented in dozens of books, scholarly and popular articles, chapters, presentations and endorsements.  


Today, ICL founder & principal consultant Hank Rubin continues the ICL mission:, helping you 

  • plan
  • convene
  • facilitate
  • evaluate
  • troubleshoot
  • revitalize and
  • lead collaborations that work!

Want to build collaboration for collective impact?

Our goal is to improve the collective impact of public leaders and partnerships dedicated to benefiting children, families, communities and schools. 

Leadership makes all the difference in the world; collaborative leadership is what we have to do to make that difference together!

ICL will help you convene, engage and motivate the right people in the right way within a sustainable collaboration designed to accomplish change. 

ICL will ...

- help you plan and convene a new start-up collaboration ... and then stay on call to help you keep it strong.

- help you strengthen or reboot a collective effort that's grown tired or ineffectual... and then stay on call if you need help keeping it vital. 

- help you establish a Collective Impact initiative … and understand its relationship to collaboration.

- be the catalyst, speaker, facilitator you need to launch or energize, regroup or reorganize, plan or audit your collaboration.

Struggling to understand collactive impact & collaboration?

Here's how we introduced the two in Rochester NY ...

Democrat and Chronicle SpeakingOut 

Sunday March 5, 2017 

More than a Collaboration

                                                                                                By Leonard Brock & Hank Rubin  

All of us hope that, this time, we're going to tackle poverty in Rochester differently than we ever have before. 

We're talking about doing it better. 

No more blue ribbon panels. No more idealistic dreams that lack the resources to succeed. No more isolated initiatives that tackle only a piece of the problem or engage all but the people most affected by poverty.   

This time we'll be systemic, acknowledging that poverty is caused and sustained by many factors that have to be tackled at once. 

We will engage people who experience and understand the pain and challenges of poverty first-hand because their expertise is as important as that of the professionals, policymakers and agency experts. 

We'll be methodical and tenacious. We're going to commit ourselves to a strategy of collective impact that holds all institutions and institutional leaders accountable for not only working together to make change happen, but to changing how and what we do in ourselves and our own organizations to achieve our community's anti-poverty goals.  

We have to be ready to change.   

And, for that change to be real and long-lasting, it has to be woven into the fabric of our organizations and cultures. This is why it's so important that we all commit ourselves to a rigorous understanding of collective impact.  

Collective impact really is much more than collaboration! 

Collaboration happens when we meet together; collective impact is what we do when we’re alone. Collaboration happens when we choose to sit in the same room and work together on the same project because we share an interest in accomplishing a shared goal. This is a good and productive process as long as the collaborators continue to meet. But it’s not enough: it doesn’t necessarily change how we behave, and it doesn’t always change decision-making in an ongoing way. The contribution of each collaborating organization often ends when its representative stops attending the meetings.   On the other hand, collective impact focuses on change inside each partner organization. 

Collective impact begins when we, as a community, agree to a set of shared outcomes (RMAPI has chosen the Guiding Principles of Structural Racism, Community-Building, and Trauma) and then, individually, go back into our home organizations and work with our staffs, boards, and volunteers to figure out what we – individually and organizationally – can best do to achieve those shared goals and then choose to make changes to accomplish this. 

When each of our organizations chooses to shift and align our own work and priorities in this way, we set changes in motion in all portions of our community. And these changes will last a long time.   “Collective impact” can’t be a catchphrase; it has to be a commitment. This time we have a chance to significantly reduce poverty in Rochester and Monroe County if each of us – in our lives and in our work - is ready to make a long and personal commitment to do things differently than we have before.


Send us your email address so we may begin exploring whether, together, we can improve the impact of your collaborative efforts.

Contact Us

Drop us a line!

Institute for Collaborative Leadership

(585) 633-1020

Who is a collaborative leader?

You are a collaborative leader once you have accepted responsibility for building - or helping to ensure the success of - a heterogeneous team to accomplish a shared purpose. Your tools are (1) the purposeful exercise of your behavior, communication, and organizational resources in order to affect the perspective, beliefs, and behaviors of another person (generally a collaborative partner) to influence that person's relationship with you and your collaborative enterprise and (2) the structure and climate of an environment that supports the collaborative relationship.”   

From ICL'sbestselling book Collaborative Leadership:

a relational model

devoted to collective impact

since 1992.