Generating ideas, connections, and action

Leadership as a Process: Implications for Emerging Leaders

At the Leadership Learning Community, we are working to promote a metashift in the way that the nonprofit sector thinks about leadership (more inclusive, networked, and collective) to make greater impact on complex challenges.  We believe that this change will help support how emerging leaders and innovators are realizing their potential and creating openness for their work and contributions.  We recently had an opportunity to engage members of the Global Youth Leadership and Engagement Working Group, a sub-committee of a network of funders working on global health, who wanted to understand the implications of this leadership metashift for emerging leaders.  As part of the research for the presentation, we interviewed Ashok Regmi from the International Youth Foundation, who also happens to be an LLC board member. He shared some interesting perspectives from his experience and research conducted by the International Youth Foundation.  We wanted to share some of the ideas that we discussed and invite you to add your thoughts to the conversation.

We believe that leadership is the process of engaging others to identify and act on behalf of a larger purpose – such as greater equity. This is not exactly a new paradigm but it challenges what has been the dominant paradigm in Western cultures – i.e. the individual heroic model.  Some cultures around the world are more collective by nature, such as African and Indigenous cultures, to name a few.  We need a much more expansive view of leadership that credits those models and replicates them.  Not one individual or organization alone can tackle complex problems.   It will take all of us learning to work together in new ways.   We need to embrace models that will move us beyond silos and connect our efforts across the systems that are producing today’s problems.
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Transparency: Opening Doors to Open Dialogue

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.”-Mahatma Gandhi

On a clear day, there is a pull-off on the top of Grizzly Peak Boulevard in Berkeley, from which you can see the entire Bay, from Alameda to Marin and past the Golden Gate Bridge. When the fog rolls in, it looks as if the city does not extend much past the clusters of buildings that are UC Berkeley. Transparency, an honest representation of the actual, the quality that makes something obvious or easy to understand. This concept can be applied just as much to the work we do in our nonprofit organizations in which case the fog rolling in is keeping quiet a process, a decision, or challenge; for instance a financial hardship, unexpected leadership transition, or programmatic decisions. It can also be applied to philanthropy, in making available the funding guidelines, applications, and making grant awards public.

A recent study by GrantCraft entitled Opening Up: Demystifying Funder Transparency, explores the layers of transparency with which grant makers are grappling. The areas discussed included grantee selection process and data, sharing performance assessments, improving relationships, improving the practice of philanthropy, and improving communications. The GlassPockets website, a service of the Foundation Center, also champions transparency among the philanthropic community, through the lens of sharing knowledge and moving from isolation to communication. The theory behind glass pockets is that everyone can “see” the inner workings of the foundation to better understand their value to society. This level of familiarly, of openness, inspires confidence rather than perpetuating a divide between the funder and the grantees, or the community for that matter.
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The Community Connections-Marygrove College Partnership: A Powerful Collaboration

Last May, after Day Two of Creating Space X, I had the honor of joining a self-organized dinner.  Among the group were Brenda Price, the director of Marygrove College’s Office of Urban Leadership Initiatives and who also oversees the Building Our Leadership in Detroit (BOLD) and Lisa Leverette, the Program Manager at the Detroit Community Connections Grant Program. That night, it became clear that Lisa and Brenda had amazing insights into many of the systemic social problems of their city. Also present were Dawn Wilson and Darnell Adams, who are both on the grant review panel for the Community Connections Small Grants Program.  Over dinner folks helped to paint a holistic picture that transcended the typical media characterizations  of Detroit with an unparalleled richness. So deep was their collective knowledge, so compelling, that all the non-Michiganians at the table (which included Tides Client Specialist Bella Celnik, LLC Chief Board Member and Independent Consultant Eugene Kim, and I) left committed to visit Detroit. As the night ended, Brenda and Lisa made a commitment to work together when they returned to Michigan. Now, seven months later, I reconnected with Brenda and Lisa to hear more about their collaboration.
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Coaching vs. Mentoring: Getting in the Game

A coach is often understood in reference to sports teams, as the leader and teacher who drives the success of their team.   We could all use a coach in life, not just on the field, as we are often challenged with decisions and experiences that could benefit from another perspective.  As a development professional, my role includes both direct fundraising and cultivating a culture of philanthropy within the organization.  At LLC, I serve as a coach, supporting our team to think about fund development across all our job descriptions and as a part of our culture.  With that in mind, I was advised to read the book “Coaching Skills for Nonprofit Managers and Leaders: Developing People to Achieve Your Mission.”  The authors, Judith Wilson and Michelle Gislason, make the distinction between a coach and a mentor.  Coaching provides an opportunity for an individual to practice and obtain constructive feedback on their performance, role, etc.  Mentoring on the other hand, is an intentional grooming of an individual to fill a specific role.  In this case, the job of a coach is to provide opportunities for reflection, learning and making well informed decisions.  And couldn’t we all use some time for reflective practices in our every day!
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Self-organizing Initiative and Collaboration At Its Best

Creating Space catalyst, June Holley, network weaver extraordinaire and author of the Network Weavers’ Handbook made a very generous offer during her remarks.  In the spirit of the self-organizing initiative she said, “I will help coach the first person to reach out to me for network support.”  Georgia Sorenson pulled out her phone and instantly texted June.  She already had an interesting project in mind that was a collaboration between Georgia and the Leadership Learning Community.

Dr. Georgia Sorenson is the former founding director of the Academy of Leadership.  While she was the director, she received funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to bring together leadership scholars and practitioners from various disciplines and universities for the purpose of building a solid theoretical foundation for leadership studies.  The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has been a leader in the leadership development field funding scholarship and practice.  The Kellogg Leadership Studies Project (KLSP) was launched over 20 years ago (1994-1997).   As part of a presentation for the International Leadership Association’s Annual Conference, Georgia asked LLC if we would be interested in helping her do a Social Network Analysis (SNA) that would map the new collaborative relationships that were developed as a result of this original investment in building new connections among scholars across both disciplines and universities.
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Learning about how to Cultivate Effective Network Leadership: 5 Top Reasons to Take this Short Survey

Our Top 5 Reasons that you should take our 15-minute survey:

  1. Two participants will each win a copy of the Network Weaver’s Handbook
  2. One participant selected from a drawing will win an hour of Network Coaching with June Holley
  3. Everyone who participates will receive a curated list of network leadership resources
  4. You could be recruited to participate in the action research phase of this project with a network coaching team
  5. You will have the undying gratitude of everyone at LLC!

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Creating Space 2014: Experimenting for Leadership Innovation


Over the last few years, LLC has convened hundreds of leadership stakeholders across the nation to reflect, learn and share together around critical issues and ideas that are impacting leadership development.  As we design the events, we strive to strike a balance between ideas and concrete applications, to cater to the different needs of our participants. During our last Creating Space in Baltimore, we decided to do something radical on the third day of the event – with the help of design thinking expert Kenny Bailey, we asked people to participate in a ‘design thinking challenge’, to develop ideas and solutions to solve critical problems in leadership, such as how to reach to the people being left out of leadership.  Each group had some time to discuss scenarios and ideas, and then present it to the entire group.  Participants were energized by this exercise; one participant mentioned ‘the most transformative experience for me was the final day's design challenge activity.  I wish that this activity had come earlier in the process.  This exercise really challenged the groups to "dig deep" in addressing an issue.’  Also, when we asked participants what were the most effective elements of the event, 50% of the participants indicated that the design challenge was helpful or very helpful.
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Nonprofit Leadership Newsbrief: January 2014

“Life’s most urgent and persistent question is what are you doing for others”- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy New Year to our Newsbrief readers! May 2014 bring you renewal, connections, joy and peace to you!

As we begin 2014 we are very busy at LLC. But we pause to reflect the honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy this month and those who fought for civil rights and justice in the 1960s. Miriam’s interesting article a few months back shared her reflections leadership after watching the fictional play “Mountaintop” based on the last moments of Dr. Kings life. But we remember that change takes many minds working in concert. We remember those working for civil and racial justice today on the ongoing struggles that we currently face. This month also marks the 5 year anniversary of the tragic shooting of Oscar Grant at Oakland’s fruitvale Bart station. Although we are still working towards social and racial justice, it’s important to lift up the stories of change.  We dedicate this newsletter to the memory of racial and civil rights activists and hope that 2014 will continue to mark another historical year for social change and leadership.  

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