Volume 91, October 2008: Coalition Building

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2008 ISSN # 1545-8873

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment.” — George Bernard Shaw

“Community cannot long feed on itself, it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond: their unknown and undiscovered sisters and brothers.” — Howard Thurman

“If the people who make the decisions are the people who will also bear the consequences of those decisions, perhaps better decisions will result.” — John Abrams

“Where people of goodwill get together and transcend their differences for the common good, peaceful and just solutions can be found for even those problems which seem most intractable.” — Nelson Mandela


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Seeing your system as a totality of interdependent parts, aligned for a common aim.
  • Coalescing players through common purpose and vision.
  • Viewing conflict as expression of differences, through which greater ideas are born.
  • Serving as convener, not overlord.
  • Boundary-tending the organization, reaching out to solidify coalitions.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

Every business seeks strength through partnerships, building coalitions within and without.

A coalition is a collection of people in common pursuit. Building a coalition focuses on weaving relationships, caring about a common mission, and urging change as a united force.

In this role, the leader becomes a master facilitator – listening, communicating, building bridges. Establishing the playbook. Fostering the exchange of resources between the corporation and the community, there for the collective good.

Frequently Asked Questions

“Why build coalitions?”
Coalition building is the joining of groups and their resources for the achievement of a common aim. Together they stand more powerful than any of them alone. Their association enhances physical, technical and information resource exchange, as well as fostering contacts, connections and relationships.
Coalitions have the benefit of raising public profile, developing new leadership, eliminating duplication, increasing communication, and effecting social change. These groups thrive on fresh ideas and energy. synergy, and diverse perspectives, when melded together in consensus.
“What is the proper order of events or first tasks in coalition building?”
Key ingredients to building coalition partnerships:
  • A convener
  • Both leadership (shared) and followership
  • A mission and shared vision
  • Collective goal-setting
  • A consensus-building process
  • Trust-building activities
  • Central coordination and communication
  • Diverse membership recruitment, including key players and stakeholders
  • Support: cash or in-kind
“Is conflict inevitable?”
Coalitions are often mentioned in the same breath as conflict or fighting. If power is uneven, there will be conflict. When the groups fight among themselves, they are less able to advance their collective interests. Yet healthy differences are at the root of all constructive social change.
All members must learn to deal with their differences in a constructive way. This includes ground rules, a method for dialogue, and strong facilitation.
See Mediating Conflict and Building Community.
“You emphasize the role of a convener or facilitator. What should we pay attention to?”
The convener must excel in group dynamics, team-building, people skills, negotiation skills, and administrative skills.
The convener must work to ensure that the coalition members:
  • curtail the number of issues they will address over a given period of time
  • see more benefits than costs from their involvement
  • share the visibility/credit/power which comes from the coalition’s accomplishments
  • benefit from high quality communications, both within the group and to the outside
  • do not publicly criticize the actions of another coalition member
  • do not compete among themselves – the issue should be a uniting factor

See the Attributes of a Good Coordinator and the Facilitator’s Guide.

Exercises and Action Items

  • Check that all the diverse interests are represented in your coalition and that processes are offered to surface their ideas.
  • Establish ground rules for the conduct of your meetings.
  • Learn a consensus-building process or hire a facilitator who knows one.


An informative essay on Coalition-Building: What is Coalition Building?.

A short guide to starting a coalition: Coalition Building.

The 12 Cardinal Rules of building a successful coalition, using homeless pets, as the organizer: Building a Successful Coalition.

Key Associates offers Conflict Mediation training, facilitation, and consultation and Future Search Visioning Conferences: Contact us for more information.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

A toolbox on coalition building: Starting a Coalition.

Worksheets and checklists for coalitions: Building a Team.

The National Coalition Building Institute and other Coalition Building Links.

Keyzines on related topics: Mediating Conflict, Facilitation, Organizational Culture, Dialogue: Thinking Together, Building Community, Relationship Building, The Power of Vision, and Strength-based Organizations.



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