Generating ideas, connections, and action

Guest Article by Stacey Millett: Libraries as Networked Health Equity Leaders

Over the past several years we have begun to realize that some of the most innovative approaches to leadership development are happening under our radar because they are embedded in the day to day work taking place in organizations, communities and initiatives.  I recently found myself marveling over the impact of a grants program that supported and connected library leaders committed to strengthening public health in their cities and counties. I am on the board of Blue Cross Blue Shield MN and was first inspired by this grants program as a creative strategy for furthering health equity when it was introduced by Stacey Millett, Senior Program Officer for Health Equity.  Recently I have become impressed by the leadership achievements of this program, a network of library leaders engaged in peer learning, reaching out to connect with networks in their respective communities and collaborating on a toolkit to for other public libraries leaders to help them bring a health and equity lens to their work.  I asked Stacey to share the story of this work and I invite you to listen with a leadership lens and imagine what we might borrow from this story in our own leadership thinking and practice.

“Libraries as Networked Health Equity Leaders”

 “What do libraries have to do with health?” a colleague queried when I suggested making grants to public libraries in Minnesota.  “Everything” I replied, “libraries are more than just a great place to get books.”  When joining Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation as Senior Program Officer for Health Equity I envisioned cultivating a network of local public library staff committed to strengthening local community health.  As trusted institutions they often have strong community ties.

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2014 Webinar | 10 Lessons about Virtual Network Leadership Development | Panelist: June Holley

In August 2014, June Holley presented 10 Lessons about virtual network leadership development based on principles of learning and behavior change. This webinar was relevant to leadership programs and networks that want to augment face to face time with virtual learning opportunities that can address the geographic, time, and cost challenges of working only through face to face connections. One of the lessons learned was the importance of "having the capacity to have breakout group capacity to increase engagement around content."


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2014 Webinar: Cultivating Results-Driven Leadership for Meaningful Change | Dr. Michael McAfee

On Thursday, September 11, 2014, Dr. Michael McAfee led the group in a discussion around the challenges of leading collective impact initiatives that aim to challenge and dismantle our nation's inequities. 
During the discussion, he engaged the group to consider the ways in which results-driven systems can be used by leaders to focus and accelerate sustainable change. He also described the system of technical assistance that he and his team employ in their work, and its impact within the Promise Neighborhoods movement.
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What The Loss of Michael Brown Means to The Leadership Development Field

Once again, the US finds itself facing a tragedy that is a result of the systemic racism and the implicit bias of those in power. In fact, the names of the victims of racial profiling have piled up so many of them happening after the death of Trayvon Martin. The recurring dehumanization of brown bodies has haunted Americans since before slavery and has devolved and been injected into all aspects of society. And as the divide widens among different groups, there is no doubt that in this moment courageous, collective leadership is needed most.
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Resource Review: Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World, published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review

At LLC, we are ambitiously reviewing research and conducting interviews in preparation for the upcoming Funders & Evaluators Circle.  We are looking for resources, feedback, innovative ideas and models for investing in and evaluating leadership development for large scale change.  This has proven quite an adventure, because large scale change requires an examination of many components – environment, populations, economic conditions, social norms, and so on.  When we look at leadership development, and in talking with a number of folks who invest in this, it is clear that we can’t just look at the individual but rather looking at the individual in relation to the system in which they are working is a more appropriate approach.  We don’t have a magic class, curriculum or degree for leadership development; it is a process, a relationship in which skills, networks and knowledge is developed and put to use in service to the community, to the organization, to the betterment of the world.


This interconnectedness was brought to the surface in an article published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World.  The article calls on the philanthropic community to re-examine the focus on strategic philanthropy in favor of a model that better fits our rapidly changing and complex world. 

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A More Agile Approach to Strategic Planning

I recently participated in a workshop by the Foundation Center on Strategic Planning.  As a small nonprofit organization, it often seems daunting to think about conducting a strategic planning process, in addition to all the programmatic work that we are already doing.  However, I do understand the importance of having a guiding strategy so I decided to participate in the workshop, even as a starting point.  I was relieved that the workshop was actually quite practical and understandable, so I wanted to share some of the key things I learned with the community.

The main point that the presenter, Eric Ryan from Ryan Nonprofits, made is that strategic planning is not a static process that happens once a year of every few years - rather, it is a dynamic process that adapts as the organization and external demands shift.  This point was also reinforced in a workshop that I attended at CompassPoint last year, where they talked about the following essential elements to successful strategies: they have to be flexible and continuously refined; they work until they don’t work anymore; they are about execution; and they are extremely market aware and sensitive.[1]  The trick is, how do we undertake such a process in reality?  Ryan recommended three main considerations:
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What are you learning about Network Leadership? Interview with June Holley

Introduction:  I had a sneak preview of June’s latest synthesis of research, “What we know about Network Leadership”, drawn from extensive reading and interviews with people leading networks.  I asked to interview her about some of the big ideas as a preview to the learning summary which will be published in the next couple of months.


Can you start by talking about what you mean by Network Leadership?

Take an example like the response to Hurricane Sandy.  A small group of people who had been part of Occupy Wall Street converged on the Rockaways, a strip of land devastated by the storm, and began to mobilize their networks to provide food, supplies and shelter for the many people in need. Over the next few months, more than 50,000 people volunteered and self-organized to provide meals, shelter, and medicine.  As time went on, increasing numbers of those involved were local residents.

These efforts were not organized by the Red Cross or FEMA, but by an ever-expanding group of network leaders who identified needs and then worked with small groups of others to meet those needs. As new volunteers arrived, they were encouraged to plug into an existing effort only until they saw an unmet need they could take responsibility for meeting. As a result, these network leaders were able to shift quickly from meeting basic survival needs in the communities to organizing local mold remediation crews and the YANA (You are Never Alone) Medical Clinic.

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What Network Leadership Competencies Do You Think Are Most Important? Here is your Chance to Weigh in!

Last week we held the first of three Community of Practice sessions being held as an offshoot of work begun at this year’s Creating Space, LLC’s national meeting.  The charge of this Community of Practice is to develop a set of modules and practices that can be used by leadership development programs, networks and consultants to help strengthen ‘network leadership’.  By that we mean the ability of people and groups to lead effectively in networks or to use network strategies and tools.

At this first meeting we had two goals: to identify resources that people are already using (no need to duplicate the wheel), and to prioritize the modules and practices for the next session of the CoP to will focus on developing.  The next session will be on September 26th at the d-School at Stanford (we still have a few slots) and will be led by Heather McLeod-Grant who will work with us to begin designing modules.

As we kicked off our work someone asked if we could define network leadership.   Since it’s a fairly new concept we decided to let a broad understanding of network leadership emerge organically as the group began to map out through a series of post-it and grouping activities the body of skills, attitudes, behaviors and practices that we thought were needed to exercise strong network leadership. Thanks to those of you who added your thoughts and clustering talents!  We used post-its to rank the areas that we thought were most important and that we hoped would be a focus of our module design work.  That said, we recognize that the group was a small sample of our much larger community and we would love your input. 

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Leadership and Networks: New Ways of Developing Leadership in a Highly Connected World External website [view] [more info]

As part of the Leadership for a New Era (LNE) initiative, the Leadership Learning Community has partnered with thought leaders in the network development and leadership development fields to develop the cutting edge report Leadership and Networks: New Ways of Developing Leadership in a Highly Connected World. This publication is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. This report is written for those who run and fund leadership programs that develop and support leadership for social change. It shares many examples of how leaders using network strategies are increasing the impact of social change work, such as the Barr Fellowship Network and Our goal is to inspire and help hundreds of leadership programs to question their assumptions about the traditional leadership models and retool their approaches in ways that will enable them to better prepare those in leadership with the mindset and skills they will need to more fully leverage network strategies. Specifically, the report addresses the following questions: Why do network strategies deserve our attention? Why do we need a new leadership mindset? What are the core principles of leading with a network mindset? What leadership development strategies support a network mindset and skills?

Authors: The primary authors of this publication are Deborah Meehan and Claire Reinelt from the Leadership Learning Community. The report was developed in partnership with co-authors Beth Tener, New Directions Collaborative; Diana Scearce, David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Eugene Eric Kim, Groupaya; Gibrán Rivera, Interaction Institute for Social Change; June Holley, Network Weaver; Nance Goldstein, PhD, CPC, Principal at Working Wisely Group; Patti Anklam, Net Work; and Natalia Castañeda Chaux, Leadership Learning Community. Steve Waddell, Networking Action, and Grady McGonagill, McGonagill Consulting, also contributed to this report.

Subjects: leadership, networks

08/08/2014 - 00:00 - 0 comments - 0 attachments - Posted by Miriam Persley

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