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Collective Leadership Story: Karma Ruder, Center for Ethical Leadership

Karma Ruder is the Director of Community Collaboration at the Center for Ethical Leadership, an organization based in the Pacific Northwest that works nationally and regionally to cultivate leadership and build capacity for change, helping communities tap collective wisdom in service of the common good. She first became involved with the Leadership Learning Community (LLC) in 2004 when she attended a Creating Space meeting in Oakland. After that, she helped organize several learning circles in Seattle, and in 2006 was on the planning committee for Creating Space in Baltimore.

When Karma first met with LLC, she and her organization were interested in being part of a community learning more about collective leadership – specifically, the principles, intentions, and challenges of bringing diverse groups of people together. During the 2006 Creating Space planning session, understanding and promoting collective leadership was her primary concern.

“I appreciated that as we were planning Creating Space, Deborah brought this great intention to embodying the energy that we wanted to show up. We raised questions about whether the way we were doing this was really collective leadership, and how we worked together to make decisions.”

Not only did Karma understand and talk about collective leadership during the Creating Space planning process, she also saw it in action during the actual event.

“When we brought the practitioners we were working with to develop collective leadership to Creating Space, they felt welcomed. We didn’t know what that would mean in terms of the dynamics of the group… given that we have people who are not academic, not into the professional aspect of leadership, much more of the grassroots, day-to-day in the field working to make changes. For them to be welcomed, and considered to be specialists in leadership, was an amazing turning point for a number of them.”

Karma saw the transformation that collective leadership can have on people. In an atmosphere like the one Creating Space generated, people who were generally modest began to see themselves and their opinions as valuable and people who were generally quick to judge were invited to reflect and reevaluate their thinking. Honoring diversity is key to creating an environment of openness and inquiry. Karma appreciated that LLC made a point to reach out to people of different races, ethnicities, religions, genders, and ages to ensure as many views as possible were legitimately presented and reflected upon.

Another related area of Karma’s work that LLC has influenced is understanding and implementing evaluation methodologies of leadership development. The idea that there are different ways to evaluate – and that some approaches are more inclusive and participatory than others – was an important influence for Karma and her work. Evaluation, like collaboration, has to do with the exchange of knowledge, and LLC helps to facilitate that exchange.

“What I really love about what LLC does is that it finds that mix of sharing and inviting people at all different levels of leadership…from people at the academic scholar level who want to create new knowledge and explore at the very theoretical level, to people who are interested in developing programs … That intersection between commitment to scholarship and community is quite wonderful.”

During one of the national gatherings of the communities working to develop collective leadership, Deborah facilitated a learning lab to capture the lessons and perspectives as practitioners reflected on their years of experience.

“The process was quite fun and very interactive. It was great watching Deborah set up the activities and do on the spot synthesis. The report that came back to the Center to be shared with the community was very useful.”

Karma, and the Center for Ethical Leadership, continues to be involved with the Leadership Learning Community. During 2010, the Center joined with other community organizations to host three Learning Circles to discuss the intersection between Race and Leadership. This group is now planning a series of six conversations for 2011.



Thanks a lot Natalia for sharing the story of Karma Ruder. This is really very inspirational story. I will defiantly share this through

Interesting to publish how local communities were affected

It would be interesting to publish how bijuterii inox local communities were affected by LLC cercei argint participants in their local areas. Collective bijuterii ieftine leadership events are similar to bijuterii argint brainstorming meetings or team-building events, meaning that different inele inox people are brought together and asked to share their thoughts and inele argint decisions. Acting this way, everybody is gaining self-esteem, improving theirs verighete inox thinking and decision mental acts. It would be interesting if local result reports would be published, to see how local communities were changed after some of their members have participated to Collective leadership events.