Leadership Characteristics

Drawing from more than 70 interviews with intersector leaders, The Intersector Project has distilled six characteristics that define the leaders of intersector collaborations. A further discussion of these leadership characteristics can be found in this article, published by The Intersector Project in the Harvard Business Review.


scaleBalanced Motivations
A desire to create public value in a professional or a personal capacity; the ability to reconcile the drive to foster social good or work on a particular social or environmental issue with competing considerations, such as financial needs or holding influence.


transferable-skillsTransferable Skills
A set of hard skills and professional competencies received from training or work experience from one or more sectors; possession of practical skills in areas such as quantitative analytics, strategic planning, and stakeholder management that are valued across sectors.


contextual-intelligenceContextual Intelligence
The ability to assess the differences and recognize the similarities between sectors, stemming from exposure or experience; an understanding of each sector’s individual culture, values, constraints, and key performance indicators which allows leaders to navigate within and between sectors.


integrated-networksIntegrated Networks
The ability to use one’s legitimacy and credibility among contacts across sectors, earned from a history of leadership positions; the capacity to leverage networks across sectors in order to advance one’s career, build teams, or convene stakeholders on an intersector issue.


prepared mindPrepared Mind
Deliberate career planning across sectors; a willingness to seize new opportunities and an openness to pursue a flexible career path.



intellectual-threadIntellectual Thread
A leader’s subject-matter expertise on a particular issue – based on work experience in the discipline, formal education, and professional training – practiced across sectors.