Generating ideas, connections, and action


Non-Traditional Approaches to Developing Non-Traditional Leadership: Learning from Detroit Commonwealth

As part of our weekly blog post leading up to Creating Space XII, taking place in Detroit, MI on September 29th-October 1st, we are reposting below a blog from 2013 which continues to be relevant and is especially pertinent to the theme of this year’s Creating Space, “Challenging Leadership Assumptions: Learning from Non-Traditional Leadership about Community and Systems Change.”

A New Leadership Development Mindset: Leadership Development Hiding in Plain Sight (originally posted 6/28/2013)

Over three years ago, LLC published an important thought piece, “A New Leadership Mindset.”  In the publication, we point out that most of our thinking about leadership has focused almost exclusively on leadership as the behavior on an individual influencing others.  We believe that our culture of individualism has permeated our leadership thinking causing us to look for and elevate the role of individuals in the change process missing another important dimension of leadership, i.e. leadership as the process by which many people align their efforts to take collective action on behalf of a common purpose. 

 read more »

Non-Traditional Approaches to Developing Non-Traditional Leadership: Learning from Leadership That Works (LTW)

This week, as part of our weekly blog series leading up to Creating Space XII in Detroit, MI, I wanted to focus on coaching as a strategy for supporting non-traditional leadership. This creative approach and program, Civic and Community Leadership Coaching, comes to us from Battle Creek, MI where it was designed and implemented by Leadership That Works (LTW).  Many thanks to Virginia Kellogg from Leadership That Works (LTW) for taking the time to share her experiences with this approach.

LTW provided some context for their work.  Battle Creek is a unique city with very committed citizens and a history of a wide variety of leadership development opportunities. It is sometimes difficult for people to know what is available for their development and what to say yes to. Tradition, along with structural racism, serves to keep leadership opportunities concentrated in the hands of a few. Consequently, there has been a need for more coordinated efforts to get leadership development into the hands of the many.

 read more »

Five Lessons from the Blandin Foundation’s 30 Years of Leadership Programming

Last month the Leadership Learning Community launched our latest publication, “Leadership and Large Scale Change: How to Accelerate Learning and Deepen Impact.”  The publication provides an overview of changes in the practice and evaluation of leadership development, addresses challenges related to both leadership evaluation and delivery and offers recommendations that are grounded in examples of great work illustrated in a series of Mini Cases.  Of course in the interest of space we had to select a few programs to profile among many interesting models.  We will be running a Leadership and Large Scale Change Series for the next several months to lift up additional examples of leadership work that has much to teach us.  This month we are starting with the Blandin Foundation’s leadership programming.  We also believe that this work is especially relevant Creating Space, LLC’s national meeting.  This year’s Creating Space theme is “Challenging Leadership Assumptions: Learning from Non-traditional Leadership About Community and Systems Change.”  The five lessons below emerged during an interview with Valerie Shangreaux, Director of Leadership Programs at the Blandin Foundation.  Thank you Valerie for your wisdom and candor.


 read more »

Exploring Non-Traditional Leadership with Jah'Shams Abdul-Mu'min

This Creating Space XII will focus around non-traditional leadership. Some of you have already started asking: what does that even mean? Personally, I assumed it was the antithesis of “traditional leader”, but what that actually means or more accurately, what that role looks like on a daily basis was still unclear to me.


Our CSXII partner, Lisa Leverette from Community Connections in Detroit, immediately invited Jah’Shams Abdul-Mu'min into this conversation. Jah’Shams brings years of experience in the leadership development field researching non-traditional leadership. Although he is based in South Central Los Angeles and works at the Los Angeles Trade Tech Community College, he has traveled the world researching cultures and their leadership models. I was fortunate enough to be able to talk more with Jah’Shams about his findings and to be able to share these with you. His answers to our burning questions are below.


 read more »

Guest Blog Q&A With Claudia Paredes on Learning Through The Greenlining Experience

Last month, Claudia Paredes from the Greenlining Institute hosted a webinar with LLC. Many of you wanted to learn more after the webinar and Claudia has generously responded to your questions in a Q&A format. We hope you can continue to mine this knowledge and can also review the webinar or share with other through this link.

Following many of your requests, Claudia agregated your questions and answers them for all of you. We hope you will continue to mine these lessons and implement them in your own work.

 read more »

Non-Traditional Approaches to Developing Non-Traditional Leadership: Learning from the Women's Co-op in Battle Creek, Michigan

As we prepare to head to Detroit, Michigan for this year’s national meeting, Creating Space XII, we thought we would bring you a weekly blog series of stories from Michigan about developing non-traditional leadership in keeping with the theme of CS XII, “Challenging Assumptions: Learning from Non-Traditional Leadership About Community and Systems Change.”   This first blog post in our series is about the Women’s Co-Op in Battle Creek and is based on an interview conducted several years ago with the Executive Director, Teresa Phillips.

 read more »

Guest Blog: Reflections from the Funders Evaluators’ Meeting by Sally Leiderman

I am a proud member of the Funders/Evaluators Circle of the Leadership Learning Community (LLC). I have always been impressed by the way LLC, and particularly Deborah and Claire, embody the ethics they espouse. They ask the hard questions about leadership development, redistribute resources to the LLC network (seed grants, evaluation opportunities, access to useful contacts), and collaborate, rather than compete, in a great deal of their work.

CAPD and I have often been beneficiaries of LLC’s fidelity to its principles. Most recently, I had a chance to be part of a Funders/Evaluators convening designed to look at ways that leadership development evaluation can support learning about the contribution of leaders and leadership to large scale social change. I have also had the opportunity to contribute to the resulting report: Leadership & Large Scale Change: How to Accelerate Learning and Deepen Impact. The convening, and the report, were organized around some of the thorniest questions in leadership development, and in its evaluation: what are rigorous ways to assess the contribution of a leadership development effort to population and community level outcomes, particularly in complex efforts with many actors and hard-to-see immediate change? How do we draw a path from supports to identify, strengthen and activate the capacities of leadership to their application and results? And, in the absence of random assignment, how do we know the value-added of those activities for individuals, cohorts and networks already on a path of leadership? As Claire Reinelt noted in last month’s blog post, the report describes several different approaches people are using that are pushing this work ahead.

 read more »

The Victims of Systemic Oppression

As a nation, we’ve witnessed major trauma throughout history. It should not be surprising that years of systemic oppression have not yet disappeared, after all, many see these aggressions daily. But nothing, nothing, could have prepared any of us for the horrifying news of the June 17th shooting in Charleston.  


Our hearts and thoughts are with the families of the victims of the Charleston massacre. We know that restorative healing is greatly needed in South Carolina and throughout the nation as we all witness the unfolding of events and that nothing could ever bring those nine souls back. This is a grisly reminder of how much work we in the social sector and the leadership development field still have to tackle; we have not yet worked ourselves out of a job.


We remember the victims of this racist act of terrorism; Ethel Lance, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson, Reverend Daniel L. Simmons Sr., and Reverend Sharonda Singleton.
 read more »

Publication Recommendation | “A Call for Action: Strengthening the Human Services Sector”

The Kresge Foundation recently convened a symposium to explore challenges in the social services sector, identify opportunities for human service leaders to partner and connect their learning and to provide recommendations to support transformation in the sector.  Their findings are relevant to those of us who are committed to the value of leadership development and are summarized in a report, “A Call for Action: Strengthening the Human Services Sector.

The report reminded me that the challenges can also be a source of positive disruption, driving greater (and needed) innovation and provided a couple of examples: read more »

  • the need to rethink traditional non-profit models and approaches to funding and create new models of partnership
  • the need to maximize our value proposition by becoming better and monitoring our impact and adapting our approaches

Is It Time for Xtreme Collaboration 3.0?

Picture1.preview.jpgRecently I was describing “Xtreme Collaboration,” a project that grew out of an Open Space session at one of our national meetings many years ago. The enthusiastic buzz it created left me wondering if it might just be time for the sequel, Xtreme Collaboration Returns or 3.0 depending on your favorite frame.  


So first, what was the project?

I pitched the idea during Creating Space (our national meeting) with the prompt: “the Xtreme collaboration session is for people who are willing to explore the possibility that we just may be going about this all wrong.” I had been mulling over the paradox in the non-profit sector, from a niche marketing perspective, that the organizations with whom you have the greatest mission alignment are your competitors.  You have probably heard the widely used metaphor, ‘we are competing for slices of the same pie.’ Given the prevalence of this assumption (and its impact on our behaviors) I became curious about whether anyone had ever tested this assumption and began to consider the possibility that it might not be true.

 read more »