Action This Day; Emergent Challenges, Collaborative Leaders

The rising complexity of our world has challenged our leadership to respond more quickly. Problems are not just being identified, but also, conservative timelines reveal the need for “action this day,” as Winston Churchill used to say.


“The indispensable ingredient in determining whether we overcome our obstacles and seize the opportunity of these times remains the same as it has been throughout history: leadership.1 With the rise in complex, interdependent, and emergent challenges, effective change to secure a brighter future will require transformative, collaborative leaders who can effectively lead cross-sector collaborations.2” (The Need for Cross-Sector Collaboration, 2018).


The definitions available for leadership are deeply embedded in our culture, but the need for cross-sector leadership is only superficially well understood. Cross-sector comes to the fore when societies face multi-dimensional problems that are not easily solved by one sector. Examples of this are war efforts, but also domstic supply chains, education in diverse communities, etc.


In education, we often put the responsibility for good schools on school leadership alone, without considering the interwoven nature of school and community, and the reflectiveness of one’s community in one’s school. It is easy to write, but much harder to grasp, implement, and support collaboration across sectors. Different ways of understanding can thwart success, but one way that is almost always at the bottom of collaboration, is accountability.

Collaboration on Accountability

If we could agree on a new set of assessments of student learning, especially those called performance assessments, we might do more to link accountability for student learning to the support of each student learning well. When students can demonstrate what they know and can do, and we honor their process, as it reflects our schooling efforts, we are well on our way to linking student learning to worker productivity. The best ideas are anchored in this collaboration of expectations for student outcomes that make sense. Action this day requires an equity of learning that leads to this multi-sector success and is the fruit of our cross-sector collaboration.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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