Generating ideas, connections, and action

LLC Most Popular Newsletter Articles in 2012

1.  Applying Social Network Analysis to Online Communications Networks (By Claire Reinelt and Natalia Castaneda)

Looking to increase your reach and influence in the social media space? Social Network Analysis (SNA), a research methodology that focuses on “mapping and measuring relationships and flows between people, groups, organizations, computers, URLs, and other connected information/knowledge entities,” ( may be the answer. We recently partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to explore how to effectively apply social network analysis to public health online communications strategies, how communications networks operate in Twitter and the blogosphere, and how to identify strategic and influential connections that can be nurtured over time to extend the reach of public health messaging. This was an innovative project that produced detailed and insightful information about how to use SNA to strategize communications campaigns, and we wanted to share some of these insights with the community – including specific recommendations for identifying key messages, influencers, and engagement strategies.


2.   How is network leadership different from organizational leadership and why is understanding this difference important? (By Claire Reinelt)

Network leadership, unlike conventional leadership approaches, is collective, distributed, bottom-up, facilitative and emergent. The individual model of leadership historically associated with strong organizations is more, directive, top-down, and transactional. As we expand our leadership mindset to understand leadership as a collective process, more people are questioning the leadership assumptions that are embedded in traditional organizational structures and processes. While the Leadership and Networks publication will contrast network and organizational leadership as a useful way of highlighting new models of leadership emerging in a connected environment, we believe that these distinctions will become less significant as organizations and communities adopt leadership approaches that are more relational and collective.


3.   Emergent Leadership (By Claire Reinelt)

I always enjoy when I come across a description of leadership that resonates with how leadership emerges in networks.  I want to remember where it came from and somehow be able to access it again, but then I move on and forget where I came across it.  Sociologist Philip Slater wrote a book on the transformation of culture in which he reflects about the shifts from a Control Culture to an Integrative Culture (The Chrysalis Effect:  The Metamorphosis of Global Culture). 


4.   Visualizing the Landscape of Action Networks: An Application of Social Network Analysis (By Claire Reinelt)

In our last newsletter we reported on how we applied social network analysis (SNA) to identify influencers in online public health communications networks.  This month we report on another application of SNA in our project with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to understand influence in state and local public health Action Networks.  Action Networks are clusters of organizations that have committed to work together to take action towards a shared vision.  For instance, Eat Smart Move More North Carolina is an “action network” with over 60 agencies, associations, and other partner organizations committed to increasing opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity, wherever people live, learn, earn, play, and pray in the State of North Carolina.  The success of Eat Smart Move More depends on hundreds of people, organizations, and communities doing their part to create the conditions for people to eat smarter and move more.   Here are some characteristics of Action Networks:


5.   From Talking to Doing: The “How To” Series (By Deborah Meehan)

For the past two years LLC has been talking about the need for a fundamental change in the way we think about and practice leadership and leadership development. We have highlighted examples of innovative approaches in our newsletters, blog posts, and webinars that we believe demonstrate the potential to increase the reach and impact of leadership development work when we move our focus from supporting individual leaders to supporting leadership as a process that engages many people in aligning their leadership action.  As the next frontier of supporting this change in practice, with the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we have produced a new how -to series that goes one step further, translating what has worked for others into practical advice for leadership development practitioners. 


6.   Shared Leadership Case Study: DataCenter (By Bella Celnik)

In October 2009, at a Leadership Learning Community (LLC) Bay Area Circle, Miho Kim and Celia Davis of the DataCenter shared their learning about the “Shared Leadership” model adopted by the Center in 2006.  The two hour meeting was very well-attended, raising many questions, which as a result of the time constraints went unanswered.  The high level of interest and participation in the topic appears to reflect the degree to which many in the nonprofit sector are beginning to explore different models and ways of working together.  Miho Kim generously agreed to a follow up conversation with me to flesh out some of the questions raised at the convening (this piece is a synthesis of our interview and the Bay Area circle convening).


7.   Leadership and the Occupy Movement (By Claire Reinelt)

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I spent four hours with people from many walks of life at the Occupy Boston Summit in the heart of Chinatown about 15 minutes from Dewey Square, the site of Occupy Boston.  Over three hundred people were in a school cafeteria, an overflow room, and on livestreaming to have a conversation for four hours about where the “occupy” movement in Boston goes from here.  

Two months after the Occupy Boston movement began there are dozens of working groups that have formed, and many different causes and concerns that are motivating people to step into their leadership.  As the movement grows and enters this next phase, there are tensions emerging around gender, race, class, political perspective, generation, and leadership tactics; many of which are deep-seated and difficult to navigate.  This next phase offers enormous opportunities and presents complex challenges for growing a robust and healthy movement.


8.   A New Take on Leadership Development (By Deborah Meehan)

The Bush Foundation recently sponsored a learning community meeting of leadership development investors and practitioners in Minnesota, where I had the opportunity to learn about a very interesting community leadership development approach by the Initiative Foundation called the Healthy Community Partnership (HCP) program. Intrigued about the HCP program, I conducted a follow-up interview with Dan Frank, Program Manager for Community Development at the Initiative Foundation, so that we could share their innovative work with all of you.


9.   Communications Strategies to Catalyze Networks (By Natalia Castaneda)

During my time at the Leadership Learning Community, I have been involved in several social network analysis projects designed to help leadership programs and foundations understand their networks and increase their impact.  One primary concern for leadership programs is how to cultivate and activate networks of their graduates. We have been using social network analysis to provide a practical way of visualizing the connections that exist in within and across cohorts and finding strategies for catalyzing more strategic connections and action.  A key component in these analyses is an examination of the existing communications strategies that are in place to facilitate connection and engagement among participants – or in some cases, the exploration of potential communications strategies.  After having worked on communications assessments for a variety of programs, including the Switzer Foundation Fellowship Network, the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance and the Central Valley Health Policy Network, I wanted to share some of the learnings that can help others working on similar projects:


10.   Assessment and Evidence-Based Leadership Practice (By Claire Reinelt)

I have been thinking a lot lately about evidence-based practice. We have been doing research for the Annie E. Casey Foundation on how to apply evidence-based methodologies to our assessment of leadership efforts to more clearly focus on bringing about a change in results (e.g., high student achievement in schools that serve low-income communities and communities of color).

Assessment has a very mixed reputation in the leadership development field, in part because most assessments are not based on evidence of behavior change. Most leadership assessments measure things like knowledge, skills (e.g., know-how), and personal characteristics of the leader, and generally find increases that have been positively associated with the program. While these types of assessments can yield valuable information, they do not produce evidence about which leadership behaviors lead to changes in results.