Government, business and civil society can come against societal problems that cut across the traditional jurisdictions and routines of organizations and cross the traditional boundaries between the public and private sector. Many actors are involved with a large variety of values, realities and interaction rules. In these areas processes of societal innovation are started onthe way to an unknown future, creating new solutions and new corporations. Examples can be found in all kind of policy domains like developing sustainable agriculture, restructuring city districts or revitalizing rural areas. These processes induce new challenges for public leadership in a multi-actor setting. This project focusses on the role of public leadership in these processes of societal innovation. Public leadersip is defined in an informal way. It is about those leaders (both elected and administrative) who advance change by reinterpretating basic routines and taking and coupling initiatives and who can be distinguished from vote-buying leaders by their "passionate commitment to make a difference. We will develop an analytical framework to conceptualize public leadersip in such a multiactor setting. In this framework there is no place for central steering. Along these lines of thought, the attention of public leaders who regarded themselves as central actors will shift from steering to participating in networks, chains and activities. Participating is not aimed at increasing the possibility of accepting decisions and also not on improving the quality of the consensus. Conversely, participating is a way of making different realities possible and being involved in processes of societal innovation. Five strategies of participating will be further scrutinized: keing, improvisation, reprising, certifying and coupling. Research methods: - Development of theoretical model, based on insights from the areas of sensemaking, governance and leadership. - Examining some cases in the areas of sustainable agriculture and the restructuring of rural areas. Reflection on experiences as an advisor and as a teacher in post- academic programs on public leadership.