The Center



about_the-center_history-synergos.jpgBridging Leadership has its roots in a global research project of the Synergos Institute. In 2002, it brought together practitioners from different parts of the world to articulate this leadership approach through the development of some 20 cases on Bridging Leadership and a paper by Steve Pierce entitled, "Bridging Differences and Building Collaboration: The Critical Role of Leadership". This inspired Prof. Ernesto Garilao, then of the Asian Institute of Management, to continue the research and application of Bridging Leadership through the Center (formerly called the Center for Bridging Societal Divides). Since then, Bridging Leadership has grown and developed under the CBL.


The Context and Our Mission


The Philippines is a country beset by complex divides. It is marked by high inequality not solely in terms of the distribution of income, but also in terms of access to basic social services such as health and education. This situation of high inequality leads to the continuing presence of widespread poverty throughout the country.

The issue of leadership finds itself at the core of weak institutions and continuing societal divides. The complex leadership challenge of our time demands a new breed of leaders, armed with different leadership knowledge, skills and values that will enable them to effectively handle complexity. This new breed of leaders must enjoy credibility, integrity, and authority recognized by different sectors; understand the complexity of challenges and address the system that creates this output; bring diverse stakeholders to co-own the issue and its solution; and lead the process of coming up with new institutional arrangements and solutions to addressing complex challenges.

Good leadership will be critical to building institutions that promote equity, inclusion, peace and prosperity. As we confront a Philippines that is increasingly beleaguered by complex divides, it is clear that the way we do leadership in the past is not enough for the uncertain and new problems that we face.


Our mission is to develop Bridging Leaders who will address and diminish societal divides in Mindanao, the Philippines, and the Asian region. Pursuant to this mission, we will:

  • Validate theoretical assumptions / hypotheses of bridging societal divides to contribute to theory development of Bridging Leadership as an emerging school of thought;
  • Develop learning materials in the form of cases, teaching notes, framework papers, and the like to document the Bridging Leadership experiences;
  • Share Bridging Leadership-related research and publications to a broad group of academic stakeholders;Design and offer innovative programs on Bridging Societal Divides;
  • Develop academic institutional partners to aid the spread of the Center's pursuits both in reach and in depthEstablish and strenghten a network of alumni that could contribute to the Center's resources, body of knowledge, and activities;
  • Illustrate the broad range of experiences of Bridging Societal Divides;
  • and Build the brand of the Center and of Bridging Leadership as well as to generate awareness about both.


Bridging Leadership

Bridging Leadership is the type of leadership that is appropriate in promoting multi-stakeholder processes to address societal inequities. It is about leading collaborative action to bring about social change. The leadership acts involves three main segments – Building Ownership of the response, Developing Co-Ownership with other stakeholders and together engaging in the Co-Creation of a new reality.



The bridging leader whose values and principles compel him to make a personal response to address inequities and societal divides recognizes that the complexity of the problem can only be solved by convening the stakeholders to the divide. (Ownership)

Through a process of dialogue and engagement, the stakeholders arrive at a common vision and collective response to the situation. (Co-ownership)

The stakeholders then adopt a social innovation that leads to the societal outcome, and carries it out through new institutional arrangements.  The bridging leader and the coalition of stakeholders ensure that these institutional arrangements have clear and measurable goals with the required capability and resources to demonstrate results. They regularly review their progress vis-à-vis the desired societal outcome and assess the individual and collective roles and accountabilities in the process.  (Co-creation)

Over time, these arrangements become formal processes that lead to a reform-conducive policy environment and responsive programs and services. Other stakeholders are invited to the coalition regularly, and new bridging leaders are developed to sustain the transformation process towards societal equity.