“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Over the past several months, we have been revisiting our Theory of Change as we plan on how to be most strategic in making progress as a small but mighty organization with a pretty lofty goal; changing how people understand what leadership is and how to develop it. If you follow us, you know we have a point of view about needing to develop more inclusive, networked, and collective leadership. As you will see in the image below we believe that in order to make progress on entangled complex problems, often referred to as “wicked problems,” we need to get much better at leading and learning together across complex systems. We also believe that we have been too narrow in looking at leadership as the behavior of an individual without understanding leadership as a process by which many people take action in solving society’s issues. In fact, we are up against some entrenched ideals about individuals that are deeply embedded in the dominant culture of the US and the ways that we think about leadership. Clearly, it will take many of us working together to shift our current leadership consciousness, a shift referred to in the diagram below as a meta shift.
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.
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.
Written by Beth Tener
Case Study of the Energy Action Network of Vermont
By Beth Tener, New Directions Collaborative
Originally Posted on the New Directions Collaborative Blog
If you think about it, you realize that every institution you have experienced in your lifetime is consciously or unconsciously based on that metaphor and that model. Your school operated that way, and your church, and your community, and your state. Your internal model of reality is the machine. So it doesn't surprise me at all that it's difficult to think otherwise or even to really understand that you are thinking in a mechanistic way.
Author: Stefan Lanfer, Knowledge Officer, Barr Foundation
Note: This is a follow up article for the recent webinar First Relationships, Then Results: A New Paradigm for Leadership Development, featuring Kimberly Haskins and Stefan Lanfer of the Barr Foundation
What if, instead of barreling ahead, relentlessly focused on keeping their organizations afloat (until they burn out trying), effective nonprofit leaders started delegating more and more responsibility to staff – at once paving the way for a next generation of leaders, and freeing themselves to think about their own leadership in more expansive ways? What would it take to affect such a shift? And what would emerge if, at the same time, a critical mass of these great leaders become a great network?
Presenter: Kimberly Haskins and Stefan Lanfer of the Barr Foundation
Topic: First Relationships, Then Results: A New Paradigm for Leadership Development
Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM PDT
This webinar explores the idea that leaders can be rejuvenated and inspired and great collaborations sparked by the same thing – social capital. · After years of leading social-sector organizations in an environment where competition is more the norm than collaboration, many gifted leaders are near burnout, unable to maximize their individual or collective gifts. Since 2005, the Barr Fellowship has been changing that in Boston – through an investment in personal growth and connections among social change leaders. Recently profiled in the Foundation Review (and before that, in a Stanford Social Innovation Review Case study in May, 2012), the Barr Fellowship is proving to be a powerful force for transformation of individual leaders, their organizations, and their city.
On Collective Leadership...
- Curtis Ogden highlights four key concepts underlying the roots of the Interaction Institute's approach to collective leadership: epistemology, cosmology, ontology, technology. Epistemology is that it’s not just about what we know, but how we know it – intuitively, intellectually, analytically. Cosmology is looking to the complex living systems and networks as the complicated reality we all live in. Ontology is the idea that each of us is evolving and capable of both learning and unlearning. Finally, technology/methodology is the idea of looking to the practices that create the best conditions for collective leadership.
- Stowe Boyd discusses concepts from a Sara Horowitz’s talk on mutualism and creates a “mutualist manifesto”. At the heart of the manifesto is finding common cause and growing mutual associations locally and globally, associations such as coops, unions, and policy organizations. Boyd thinks that associations supporting one another, governance by members, seeking benefits not profits, and cooperating in resource allocation will all make great headway towards directing change in a systemically chaotic world.
On Civic Engagement...
- Volunteering and high levels of civic engagement have helped certain communities weather unemployment with greater ease. The National Conference on Citizenship has created a report based off of U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Labor Statistics. Working with neighbors in one’s community resulted in a decrease of .256% unemployment. The report calls on community and business leaders to foster a local discussion in their community on civic engagement.
- This follows a new study where social change was found to be a priority for Americans. Walden University and Harris Interactive conducted a survey of 2,100 people and found that 85% believe that their individual actions can effect social change and more than 50% plan to engage in creating social change in the future.