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Cornwall Museums Partnership

12 principles of collaborative leadership

We’ve been thinking a lot about the power of collaboration in Cornwall over the last few years and how we can use it as a tool to help ensure the future sustainability of museums and galleries.

Most recently as part of our Arts Council funded Change Makers programme (a partnership between Dr Tehmina Goskar Cornwall’s Change Maker, Royal Cornwall Museum and Cornwall Museums Partnership) we have been reflecting on how collaborative working can assist culture change.

We’ve identified 12 principles of collaborative leadership for change:

  1. Changing things in a museum is really difficult and take a long time; it’s lonely
  2. You can’t do it on your own – you have to collaborate with others
  3. Museums are important players in civil society. But they are unusual. They are buildings full of old things and we expect people to part with money to enjoy them. Keep a sense of proportion
  4. Get to know what bubbles underneath the surface of your museum. What baggage is it carrying?
  5. How does the group’s behaviour compare to the individual’s? What relationships are at play?
  6. As a change agent, what’s it like being on the other end of me? What’s it like for others to be on the other end of you? Facilitation skills are really useful
  7. Change doesn’t pan out how you might have planned it; negotiate the outcomes, be flexible, communicate widely and regularly to achieve a collaborative culture
  8. Repetition of a few simple messages is key, especially common values around community, integrity and authenticity
  9. Be confident in challenging the status quo or accepted thinking, but use sparingly
  10. Be prepared for the inner biases and prejudices of others to be projected onto you; don’t accept poor behaviour but you will need to develop a strong stomach
  11. You’ve succeeded when you hear your words quoted back at you, don’t worry about receiving credit
  12. Don’t be the change they seek, be there to lead their change


Dr Tehmina Goskar @tehm

Emmie Kell @emmiekell

Our Funders