Generating ideas, connections, and action


How Can We Understand Network Leadership in the Context of Current Leadership Thinking and Practice?

We often think of leadership as the skills, qualities and behavior of an individual who exerts influence over others to take action or achieves a goal using their position and authority. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that this is only one part of the leadership story – and one that does not fully recognize leadership as a relational process that is fluid, dynamic, non-directive and non-unilateral. Understanding leadership as a collective process requires us to think differently about how change occurs and what leadership is, how it works and how we can support it.

Traditional approaches to leadership and leadership development assume that training an individual leader with appropriate knowledge and skills will result in an increase of organizational capacity which in turn will lead to better community results. read more »

The Future of Leadership Development: Groups, Networks and Partnerships


By Claire Reinelt

(Article originally posted on Stanford Social Innovation Review Opinion Blog)

Whether we seek to eliminate health disparities or prepare all children to enter school ready to learn, we do not have the leadership we need.  The heroic model of leadership blinds us to the fact that untapped leadership potential exists everywhere.  The dominant leadership model assumes that training individuals will better prepare them to lead strong organizations; and in turn strong organizations will produce better community-level results, but this model falls well short. Reaching the scale and scope of leadership needed to address complex issues requires new approaches to leadership development. Our focus should be on finding, cultivating, and connecting leadership everywhere it exists; across all generations, races, communities, and organizational levels. To activate this untapped leadership potential, leadership thinking and practice need to shift in three fundamental directions: read more »

Member Spotlight: Bruce Hoppe and Connective Associates

For the May Member Spotlight we would like to illuminate the work of Bruce Hoppe and Connective Associates. As both founder and president of Connective Associates, Bruce works with communities and organizations to better visualize and use their social networks for innovation, influence, and social good.  His blog Connectedness is a rich source of links and reflections on networks and web science.


Bruce has pioneered the use social network analysis in the leadership development field.  At Creating Space VII in Durham, NC, Bruce introduced the LLC community to a social network mapping tool that used real-time data from the participants to map their relationships with each other.  These maps enabled the group to analyze the patterns of their connections and consider when network maps are useful in leadership development work.

  read more »

Leadership and Accountability: What if we’ve got it wrong?


Last week I had a fascinating conversation with my seat mate on a flight from Chicago to San Francisco, Matt P.d. Brown, founder of a company called Big Boing and expert in play. He left me with a number of provocative ideas (I actually pulled out a notebook and pen). Here is my favorite: acknowledging effort increases student risk taking while focusing on achievement or personal qualities actually decreases risk taking behavior. I checked it out when I got home. Researchers Mueller and Dweck found that “children who were praised for their effort showed more interest in learning, demonstrated greater persistence and more enjoyment, attributed their failure to lack of effort (which they believed they could change), and performed well in subsequent achievement activities. Rewarding effort also encouraged them to work harder and to seek new challenges.” read more »

How is network leadership different from organizational leadership and why is understanding this difference important?


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.

  read more »

Emergent Leadership

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).  Here is how he describes emergent leadership:

  read more »

Member Spotlight on Center for Ehtical Leadership


In this month’s newsletter, we are excited to cast the Member Spotlight on two invaluable members of, and contributors to the Leadership Learning Community (LLC) - Dale Nienow, Executive Director and Karma Ruder, Director of Community Collaboration, and their organization, the Center for Ethical Leadership. Karma and Dale have been long-time, committed members of the LLC. They serve as the official conveners of the Seattle LLC Circle and have organized a number of meetings over the last few years. In March of this year, they co-hosted (with four other organizations) a well-attended Seattle LLC Circle on “A Conversation about Leadership and Race” that was organized around the work of LLC’s Leadership for a New Era Initiative Leadership and Race piece. And at this year’s GEO conference, Dale agreed to join as one of the panel participants in a workshop organized and facilitated by LLC Executive Director, Deborah Meehan, on Collective Leadership: Nurturing Vibrant Organizations and Catalyzing Community Change. Karma and Dale were both integral to the design and facilitation of Creating Space VIII that took place in Baltimore. On the other hand, they have been integral participants at many LLC convening’s where their contributions are always rich, thoughtful, thought provoking and insightful. Dale and Karma always bring a spirit of generous sharing to any project or convening and we are pleased to shine the “spotlight” on them and their work. read more »

Guest Post on Pegasus Blog: "Lessons from Healthcare Reform: The Need for a New Leadership Mindset"

Author: Deborah Meehan

Date: 4/14/10

Original Post: Pegasus Communications Blog

As the debates raged over healthcare reform in an attempt to break the political gridlock on Capitol Hill, I wondered what had happened to "yes we can." The election of Barack Obama was an energizing time that mobilized high levels of participation across the political spectrum. Change was a big theme. Presidential candidate Obama's rallying cry reminded many of us that we were a part of making change happen.


During the campaign, tens of thousands joined meet-ups, used online tools for campaign organizing, and contributed small donations. But what happened to this active engagement among Obama supporters once he was elected? While there is much to learn from the 2008 campaign about how to create the conditions for self-organization and how to leverage social networks, I would like to focus on how our mental models about leadership are limiting our ability to achieve breakthrough change. read more »

Modeling Exercise: Exploring Complex Questions While Having Fun


I am always eager to try out a different approach that will help us, as a learning community, get somewhere new in our thinking – and what better time than when dealing with a topic as big as “what needs to change in the way we are thinking about supporting leadership for social change”? And what better guinea pigs than the board of a learning community? I had heard a lot of buzz about modeling and as a recovering left brain person I was having trouble picturing how it would work, but with folks I respected like Otto Scharmer doing it, I decided it was time to take a leap of faith. Here is the story of how we used a modeling exercise to reach a breakthrough in our thinking about leadership.

  read more »

Collaborating to Develop Community Focused Health Leadership


In March 2007, the Leadership Learning community (LLC) held a Health Leadership Learning Circle retreat near Napa, California. The retreat gathered 30 health leadership development funders, practitioners, and evaluators to share resources, tools, information and successful approaches to supporting, developing and connecting health leadership. Ginny Oehler and Tracy Patterson were both at the retreat. read more »