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Creating Space IX: What We Learned

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We would like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Creating Space IX participants for taking the time and completing the follow up survey and sharing your thoughts, experiences, learning, suggestions and comments. Over 38% of you responded! Your survey responses have provided us with a rich opportunity to learn about what worked, what didn’t work, and what we could have done better. read more »

Transforming White Privilege: A 21st Century Leadership Capacity -- Survey Findings

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Posted on behalf of Sally Leiderman

The Center for Assessment and Policy Development was supported by a grant from the Leadership Learning Community Seed Fund to survey leadership programs to learn how they are addressing issues of white privilege, structural racism and diversity in the context of their leadership programs. The survey is part of a larger project in which CAPD is partnering with MP Associates and World Trust Educational Services to create tools and guidance that can be embedded in a wide range of leadership programs to take up these issues. As we found out at Creating Space recently – even with our best intentions – many of us lack the skills, confidence and fortitude to deal straight on with these issues – even when we think that is a strategy that might be helpful.  Many of us also wonder about how to be strategic about these issues – when to raise them, whether to raise them – whether attention to community, relationships, love and courage – can be “color-blind” or need to be racialized. My take-away from what occurred at Creating Space is that we are going to need multiple strategies, multiple entry points and a whole lot of experimentation and persistence on leading for social justice.  read more »

Leadership for a New Era


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In 2008 LLC made a radical decision not to hold Creating Space (CS).  Each year LLC convenes CS so that people involved in leadership development can take a step back to restore and think about their work in new ways.  LLC took a pause from CS to create more reflective time for tough questions: are we making a difference, are the leadership development approaches of the past 10 years relevant in a changing technological and political landscape?  Essentially, do we need to rethink the ways in which we conceptualize and support leadership?

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Stepping: Stepping up, stepping back, stepping down and, “ouch” the misstep!

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Lately, I find myself smiling at the use of the word “stepping.”  The second day of Creating Space, I stepped out of my house excited about the day.  In fact, my head was already half way there, leaving my body to navigate on auto pilot.  As usual, I was loaded down with my laptop, enough clothing for any imaginable changes in weather and a purse that you could live out of for days.  Racing down the driveway, I took a flying spill.  Although I am told it’s quite difficult to break a knee cap I had enough momentum to do the job.  I was excited and rushing to get to Creating Space - I never did - and instead spent the duration in the hospital.  read more »

Framework for Leadership Investment and Evaluation

In a recent consulting opportunity with the United Way of Greater Toronto, I worked with Amanuel Melles, the Director of Organizational Capacity Building to develop a Framework for Leadership Investment and Evaluation. This framework, adapted from a GEO leadership framework, is designed to help funders clarify the purpose for their investments in leadership and to link those purposes to specific programs, and sample activities (The GEO framework is available in Investing in Leadership, vol. 1). Amanuel thought this framework could be useful for assisting the United Way and other leadership funders in Canada to become more intentional about where they are currently investing resources, where there are gaps in investment, and how they might work together to maximize the impact of their resources. read more »

Leading and evaluating in a world of systems

Advice from Donella Meadows on how to lead in a world of systems from her book Thinking in Systems: A Primer 1. Get the beat of the system 2. Expose your mental models to the light of day 3. Use language with care and enrich it with systems concepts 4. Pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable 5. Make feedback policies for feedback systems 6. Go for the good of the whole 7. Listen to the wisdom of the system 8. Locate responsibility in the system 9. Stay humble – stay a learner 10. Celebrate complexity 11. Expand time horizons 12. Defy the disciplines 13. Expand the boundary of caring 14. Don’t erode the goal of goodness This is good advice for those of us who fund, run, and evaluate leadership efforts that seek systems level or social change outcomes. read more »

Leadership, Race, and White Privilege

LLC hosted a webinar on Leadership, Race and White Privilege with Sally Leiderman, President of CAPD. Sally has been a long-time member of LLC and an active participant in the Evaluation Circle. She received an LLC seed grant to support her work to disseminate share and disseminate a curriculum on white privilege that can be adapted and used in leadership development programs. During the webinar Sally presented findings from a survey of 123 leadership development funders, practitioners, and evaluators. With one program in mind, each survey respondent had answered questions about how their program addressed issues of diversity, structural racism, and white privilege. The powerpoint presentation is available below. Highlights from the conversation are available here. We invite you to continue this conversation at Creating Space, May 20-22 and as part of our Collaborative Learning Initiative. read more »

Learning Lab on Learning Communities (April 23-24, 2009)

LLC hosted a learning lab on learning communities with learning circle partners and others who facilitate learning communities. I had two experiences that enabled me to go deeper with my understanding about how to open up transformative learning and how to manifest the kind of change we desire in the world in our learning community process. A group of eight people used Emergent Learning Mapping to explore the question, "How do we create conditions that open up transformative learning?" We told our own stories of transformative learning and identified insights from our own experiences that we shared with each other. We then came up with hypotheses that we could test in future opportunities we have to facilitate a learning community experience. The learning from the session is captured here. read more »

Einstein and Leadership for a New Era

When someone, in casual conversation, suggested that, “it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure that out” I might have been offended if I were not amused by the irony of his reference to Einstein. We had recently used an Einstein quote in a thought piece called Leadership for a New Era (attached below) written by the Leadership Learning Community (LLC) team. “You cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that was used to create them.” This quote expressed the impetus we felt to ask ourselves and our community a related question, “What in our current consciousness and approaches to leadership development must change if we are to provide the scope and quality of leadership needed to address the significant social inequalities?”

Now here comes the irony part. read more »

Developing Leadership Across Boundaries: Learning from a Foundation-Grantee Learning Community Partnership

Over the past three years the Leadership Learning Community partnered with The California Endowment, and eight grantee organizations to form a learning community on boundary-crossing leadership. The purpose of the initial learning community was to: (1) explore what boundary-crossing leadership is and how it is supported and developed in different contexts; (2) build the capacity of learning community partners to define their desired results and evaluate outcomes (both the grantees and the foundation); (3) form a trusted learning community where partners can learn and share with one another in ways that improve their collective impact; and (4) gather data from participants in partner programs about the impact of participating in the program, and identify what works to cultivate boundary-crossing leadership. read more »