City of Glasgow College


This case study relates to a series of events in which Connecting Scotland and the City of Glasgow College (CoGC) collaborated, to introduce the practices of participatory leadership and design mini projects for wiser action.


The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) at the City of Glasgow College recognised the need for embracing a collective leadership ethos to help deal with the complexities of the world and the challenges involved in continuous improvement. The College believed that by extending leadership and enabling more staff members to adopt Participatory and Collective Leadership practices that its purpose to ‘Let Learning Flourish’ through Inspiration, Excellence and Innovation would be realised.

Need and Purpose

CoGC asked CS to co-design and host a series of events at the end of 2019. With a mandate from the ELT to invite the wider management population to self-organise and identify systems and processes that could be transformed or changed. Self-organised and self-managed teams would then be invited to collaborate on Design for wiser action projects.


In early October 2019 approximately 100 members from the CoGC management and leadership team gathered to explore opportunities for collaborative change which would inspire system improvements. Under the CoGC strapline of ‘Let Learning Flourish’, using a blend of dialogic techniques the group identified a range of topics that they considered would help inspire continuous improvement and growth.

Two follow-up events were hosted in November 2019 and January 2020.

Benefits Delivered

The purpose of the events were to

  • Provide an introduction and grow awareness of the essential practices of the Art of Participatory Leadership / the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter.
  • Provide the space to reflect on – if and how these practices and processes may be useful if practised and applied to the everyday collaboration and work of participants
  • To explore what may be wise next steps to let learning flourish in and for the College

The results were

  • The project ‘owners’, the teams and their ideas were inspired to move forward.
  • Participants had a clearer understanding of the Art of Participatory Leadership / the Art of Hosting approach and essences.
  • Participants were to identify in which areas of their own work this particular approach and some of these practices could, or could not, be applied.
  • Incorporation of practice within pedagogy

What People Said

  • "The conversations allowed everyone to have their say and make suggestions for action."
  • "We learned so much about how we might work differently in our day job, that we can take ownership and how we can apply these participatory practices."
  • "Bloody brilliant!"