Reflection exercise – ten components of effective coalitions

An exercise to accompany our 'Effective coalitions and COVID-19' webinar

Source: Dr Stephanie Snape, New Leadership Foundation

Component number

Component of  Effective Coalitions



What is the position on each component within your coalition? What has gone well? 
What have you learnt?  Can you improve coalition working?  How?  When?

1 Build strong foundations
  • Don't rush the early stages - take your time
  • Build personal relationships - get to know each other
  • Take time to identify shared agendas
  • Take time to develop a written agreement
2 Find common ground
  • Explore your respective interests, policies, values & manifesto promises
  • Identify shared, common interests, policies & values
  • Develop a shared agenda & key priority
  • Be clear where there are divergent interests & policies (& clarify how these will be managed)
3 Always have a written agreement
  • Any initial verbal agreement needs to be followed up with a written agreement
  • Never shortcut this stage
  • Any necessary adjustments to a written agreement need careful negotiation
4 Build intentional relationships across the groups
  • Stable coalitions thrive where time is taken to build intentional relationships across the coalition groups
  • Relationships should not be restricted to leading members of the coalition groups
  • Build relationships intentionally & carefully
5 Right people for the right jobs
  • Look across the groups - where possible - to match known skills, experience (and commitment) to leadership roles
  • Building a diverse, skilled leadership team will bring benefits over longer term
6 No public surprises
  • Where possible avoid public disagreements or different public messaging across the groups
  • Develop co-ordinated processes for agreeing and communicating public messages
7 Keep the groups involved
  • Keep all members of coalition groups informed and involved
  • Avoid the danger of a growing 'them and us' between coalition leading members and their groups

Invest in active communication

  • Keeping the groups involved is a key reason to invest in communicating actively using range of methods
  • Coalition working rests on effective and timely communication - it's hard work but vital
9 Learn, adapt, improve
  • Adopt an improvement focus - reflect on what's working well and what isn't and take steps to improve & adapt
  • Problems will occur - how can you learn and adapt?
10 Use political nous and soft skills
  • Successful coalition leaders use their political and soft skills effectively
  • Understand not just the dynamics of your own group but of the other coalition groups too
  • Soft skills such as influencing, relationship building, and negotiation skills are at a premium in coalitions