Generating ideas, connections, and action


Rethinking Leadership Networks of Program Graduates


Over the years we have talked a lot about leadership program networks. In leadership program evaluations we often hear from program participants that relationships formed with others in the program are one of the most valuable and enduring parts of their experience. We have heard stories about these relationships fostering collaborations, providing an ongoing source of consultation and advice and as an information resource exchange network. It’s no wonder that leadership programs are eager to leverage the impact of these relationships by building sustainable networks of program graduates.

The network buzz over the last several years has inspired leadership programs to imagine new possibilities for vibrant networks of their program graduates. The good news is that we have an opportunity to learn from a growing field of network organizing strategies. The bad news is that this field of work does not support conventional thinking and approaches to building alumni networks. read more »

On Collective Leadership: From People Who Are Doing It.


It’s important to learn about collective leadership from people who are doing it.  Over a year ago the Leadership Learning Community held a two day Learning Lab, “Learning about Collective Leadership” with 30 community activists who were part of the Kellogg Fellows for Community Change.  The KFCC program focused on building collective leadership capacity within communities. The group came from rural and urban regions all over the US.  We have attached the summary of work done by this group that describes lessons and questions that emerged over the two days and demonstrates the ways in which many of the tips that we have shared over the past several months were put to use to stimulate a high level of collective learning. read more »

Leadership in the Social Sector: Why We Need Change


Inclusive, networked, and collective approaches to leadership are vital for the development of the social sector, for its power to influence public will and public policy, and for the personal survival of leaders in the sector.


At present, the social sector leadership system privileges the exercise of leadership within organizations. An assumption exists that organizations are the most efficient and accountable way to deliver services and advocate for change. read more »

XTreme Collaboration in the Nonprofit Sector


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Many years ago at Creating Space, we held a session called Xtreme Collaboration. We were trying to figure out how we might test the assumption that we were in competition with each other for limited financial resources. The implications of this prevalent thinking are huge, i.e. the more closely your mission work is aligned with another organization, the more you are competing for resources within a limited niche. When you get right down to it this is pretty paradoxical, and downright sad. This is why at LLC we often talk about the hazards of “organizational sustainability” and how things might change if we began to talk about the need for mission sustainability. Or better yet, we could talk about interdependence. john powell of the Kirwan Institute talks about the need for a new social justice paradigm based on a profound recognition of our interdependence.

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Van Jones: Leadership and Race


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Several years ago at Creating Space, we invited Meg Wheatley to initiate a discussion around communities of practice. She described four key ways that young leaders in South Africa were being supported as a community of practice: naming, connecting, resourcing and illuminating. A young African American man immediately stood and expressed his concern that in this country, calling attention to your leadership as a person of color could put you in peril. I have thought about his comments repeatedly over the last year with the unprecedented number of threats against President Obama during his candidacy and then as president. The outrageous attacks on Van Jones by Glen Beck are another reminder of the perils of being African American and leading. Anyone who has attended a Farmer’s Market in the Bay Area has probably signed more than one petition in support of initiatives on any number of issues that could also be attacked as ‘un-American’. In fact, living in the Bay Area is probably un-American to the likes of Glen Beck, so it’s pretty disheartening that so few have seen or called out these racial attacks for what they are. read more »

Leadership Tip: The Continuum Exercise


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Our leadership tips have focused on how to create a community of learning among leadership program cohorts.  Understandably, many programs want to offer their participants the benefits of skills building activities or exposure to field experts.  At the conclusion of the formal program it can be hard to shift participants from a primary role of recipient to one of contributor.  But when participants are engaged continuously as contributors, they are more likely to remain active and to experience the enduring benefits of peer learning and collaborative problem solving.  read more »

Leadership for A New Era: What We Learned About Using a Webinar to Attract and Reach Out to New Networks


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Expanding LLC's reach and networks

LLC staff wants to thank everyone who participated in our first Leadership for a New Era (LNE) webinar during which we introduced and invited peers to join with the Leadership Learning Community to shape and create the LNE initiative.  (A copy of our webinar slides are attached below.) Our outreach efforts included personal contact, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Linked In.  We significantly extended our network with these outreach efforts and attracted people committed to transforming the leadership culture in a number of different arenas, including social justice, service, climate change, and internationally. read more »

Collective Leadership – Stepping Out of the Box

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As we were discussing the creation of the design team for the LLC national meeting, Creating Space, someone posed a radical question that went something like, “What if we welcomed everyone who wanted to be part of the design process with the understanding that they would contribute in whatever way they could and whenever they could?” This was being suggested instead of selecting from a pool of community members who responded to an invitation sent to the entire community and who indicated their interest in participating on the design team. If there had been a camera in the room snapping the look on my face at that very instant, I’m certain it would have shouted – “Are you kidding?!!” As a matter of fact, I’m sure I voiced a much softer version expressing my concern and objection to the idea. read more »

Leadership Tip: Taking Time to Re-Think (or Remember) the Big Picture


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Getting The Basics Right

Establishing a clear sense of purpose is an essential first step when developing a community of learning and practice for participants of leadership programs. This seems like a no brainer but without this step, folks may be holding different assumptions about why they are participating in the community or what they hope to achieve together. read more »

Inclusive Leadership: A Call To Action


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Authors: Deborah Meehan and Natalia Castaneda

According to a recent report by Bridgespan, there have been over 20,000 leadership positions available in the nonprofit sector in 2009. For a year that has been hit by such a severe economic crisis, that statistic sounds rather promising – but for who? Who will benefit from this opportunity and have a chance to step up into a leadership role? We would like to think it’s a matter of equal opportunity but historical data suggests that may not be the case. read more »