Collaborative Leadership Audio Program

Project Author – Lily Rappaport

The Collaborative Leadership Audio Program was recorded at the Star Island Lifespan Religious Education Week 2015. The program consists of nine recorded sessions. In this series, we explore themes related to our changing world, the changing nature of church, the critical role of great collaborative teams in navigating these changes, and religious education as a growth strategy. This program features talks and discussions with Carey McDonald, Patricia Infante, Starr Austin, Andrea Lerner, Patricia Hart, Cathy Seggel, and Pat Humphries & Sandy O. of Emma's Revolution, plus a wrap up conversation with Carey McDonald and Peter Bowden.

Download the week’s podcast here or

Program Overview

Last summer 160 UUs came together for Lifespan Religious Education Week on Star Island and had a transformative experience in shared leadership. Under the weekly theme of “Collaborative Leadership: Stronger Together,” we dreamed, learned, played and sang our way into a new model for UU faith development.

We started by talking about how religious communities are changing in America. We recognized that religious education has been a big attraction for families to join our congregations. And we noted that religious education is a team sport – it takes volunteers, staff, parents and children to make it happen. The magic of the week was that we brought these three strands together in a vision of how faith development can lead the way for UUs, fueled by creative and committed teams. Our mantra for the week was: the world is changing, teams are a key, and religious education is a growth strategy.

Carey McDonald, UUA Outreach Director, is the series moderator. 

Themes of the Week

The following are the themes woven throughout our 2015 conference and this audio program.

  • The world is changing, church is changing
  • Collaborative, effective teams are a key to thriving in this new era
  • Religious Education is a growth strategy

Values of Great Teams
The week is built around 5 values of great collaborative teams inspired by the work of  Patrick  Lencioni who wrote the books The Advantage and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  Carey McDonald flips Lencioni’s five dysfunctions, offering us the following five values:

  • Trust
  • Engagement
  • Commitment
  • Accountability
  • Achievement

Full  Program with Show Notes

Each episode page contains the audio track, bios for presenters and panel participants, as well as any resources, videos and tools mentioned. The full program runs 7 hours and 15 minutes. Show notes, speaker bios and other resources may be found on the pages for each of the 9 program audio tracks, below.

THEME TALK 1 – Carey McDonald
Carey McDonald, UUA Outreach Director, shares the overarching themes for the week and presents five values of great teams inspired by the work of Patrick Lencioni. Carey makes the case that given the changes in today’s world, having great collaborative teams is critical.  He explores how great collaborative teams are a key to our leaders being able to experiment, learn, adapt and grow together. In this overview, and over the course of the week, Carey explains how the five stated values of great teams must be developed if teams are to realize their potential. And it all starts with trust.

THEME TALK 2 – Pat Infante with host Carey McDonald
Based on her “Leadership Styles: Personality, Identity and Strategies in Work Relationships” workshop, Patricia Infante explores the role knowing ourselves plays in great teams and how this relates to trust.

THEME TALK 3 – Starr Austin and Andrea Lerner, with host Carey McDonald
Starr Austin and  Andrea Lerner, both leaders of the UU Identity Renaissance Module,explore Unitarian Universalist identity formation as a process,  highlighting ways the process unfolds, and how we might foster it.

PANEL DISCUSSION 1 – Carey McDonald, Starr Austin, Pat Infante and Andrea Lerner
Our panelists explore their experiences with great collaborative staff teams, the power of theme based ministry to align congregational teams and programs making collaboration easier to accomplish, the challenges of moving teams in the direction of collaboration when they are presently far from that state, and responses to other submitted questions.

THEME TALK 4 – Patricia Hart and Cathy Seggel, with host Carey McDonald
Patricia Hart and Cathy Seggel offer a talk based on their workshop “Building a New Way – Collaborative Leadership for a Changing Time” drawing from the work of the LREDA/ UUMA/ UUMN Task Force for Excellence in Shared Ministry. As culture changes, congregations must change as well. New leadership models are needed for religious professionals (ministers, religious educators and musicians) and lay leaders, working collaboratively – using different skills, and a shared understanding of systems theory.

PANEL DISCUSSION 2 – Carey McDonald, Sandy O., Pat Humphries, Patricia Hart, and Cathy Seggel
During the conference two of the workshops embarked on an unexpected collaboration. The “Building a NewWay – Collaborative Leadership for a Changing Time” workshop led by Patricia Hart and Cathy Seggel joined with the “Inspiring the Revolution! Intuitive Collaboration Through Music” led by Pat Humphries & Sandy O. (Emma’s Revolution) to create an evening chapel service. Our panelists discuss the process, challenges and their insights from the experience.

THEME TALK 5 – Pat Humphries and Sandy O., with host Carey McDonald
Pat Humphries and Sandy O. of Emma’s Revolution lead an interactive theme talk based on their workshop “Inspiring the Revolution! Intuitive Collaboration Through Music.” They discuss music as a medium to draw together disparate groups to create larger, stronger, more diverse communities and movements for social justice. We also experience creative harmonizing, with its perfect collaborative leadership balance of contributing and listening. The talk concludes with the story of how their song “Peace Salaam Shalom” came to be sung and shared across the world.

THEME TALK 6 – Carey McDonald
Carey McDonald goes into depth about “Entry Points” into Unitarian Universalism and what we need to do in order to move people along a “Spectrum of Faithful Relationship” from being CURIOUS, to being WELCOMED, then CONNECTED,  ENGAGED and finally, becoming fully INTEGRATED leaders.

WRAP UP – Peter Bowden and Carey McDonald
Inspired by the week and the buzz around Carey’s final theme talk, Peter Bowden sits down with Carey to go even deeper into the “Spectrum of Faithful Relationship” and why great teams  are critical to the innovation we must be engaging in if Unitarian Universalism is not only to survive, but to thrive.


This resource was made possible by grant from

the Liberal Religious Educators Association 21st Century Fund.