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How do we practice collective leadership when some parts of the leadership development practice feel individual?

 

LLC has spent a great deal of time and energy encouraging leadership funders and practitioners to expand and evolve their thinking on the very concept of leadership. To think about leadership not simply using what is called the “lone hero” model or lens. When the story of social change is told, it usually involves a few brave men, and occasionally women, who through grit, determination, and perhaps a superpower or two, save the day by individually ushering in change. This approach often excludes many from participating, upholds hierarchical, and often oppressive systems, and is frequently ahistoric, invisiblizing all of the non-household names, often less-privileged folks, who labored to make change possible.

 

Instead, LLC has supported efforts to think about leadership in more expansive, accessible, equitable, inclusive and democratic ways. Networked leadership is one example, creating a broad base of leadership rather than one leader to lead them all.

 

But the actual practice of inclusive and networked leadership is challenging. Often, supports are provided to or experienced by individual people, not whole communities, networks or demographic groups simultaneously. Smart and effective leadership processes encourage participants to engage in personal internal reflection, to build authentic relationships with other individuals, attend skills-building training sessions where a person individually chooses to show-up, etc;  So how do we practice collective leadership when some parts of the leadership development practice feel individual?

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Three lessons on Leadership Development From Reverend William Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign

 

As three full days were coming to close at the Othering and Belonging Conference, I could not imagine that there was any space left in my overflowing brain or heart, that was, until Reverend William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign took the stage. I was riveted for the next hour, and my thoughts have returned repeatedly to several lessons about leadership. I encourage you to listen to the video of his speech yourself.

 

First, as context, the leadership that Reverend Barber inspires is squarely anchored in the pursuit of our full humanity, without pulling any punches. He resurrected what he describes as the often forgotten tenets of Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggle for wholeness, the fight against systemic racism, poverty and militarization. As someone with a passion for social justice leadership, I found myself listening for ideas about leadership, who leads, and how.

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Three lessons on Leadership Development From Reverend William Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign

As three full days were coming to close at the Othering and Belonging Conference, I could not imagine that there was any space left in my overflowing brain or heart, that was, until Reverend William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign took the stage. I was riveted for the next hour, and my thoughts have returned repeatedly to several lessons about leadership. I encourage you to listen to the video of his speech yourself.

 

First, as context, the leadership that Reverend Barber inspires is squarely anchored in the pursuit of our full humanity, without pulling any punches. He resurrected what he describes as the often forgotten tenets of Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggle for wholeness, the fight against systemic racism, poverty and militarization. As someone with a passion for social justice leadership, I found myself listening for ideas about leadership, who leads, and how.

 read more »

Collective Leadership in Action

 

 

 

Thanks to those of you who joined our happy hour in Oakland to meet our new Co-Director, Ericka Stallings.  I have to say onboarding Ericka made it a ‘happy week, and our process was well worth the time we took. Along the way there have been many lessons for the LLC board and staff, and of course me.  We wanted to pause and share some of our reflections, and maybe encourage you to consider this model.

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Who is LLC? A Different Approach to Capacity

We have written a number of times about why we are adopting a more network centric approach and what that looks like. This month we want to talk more about the expansive LLC team (a team that includes our staff and many of you, members of the network.) Over this past year we have contracted with a dozen folks from the network who are engaged with us on consulting projects. We consider our consulting work, the applied research arm of the organization because it is where we get closest to the ground and apply our ideas. For this work we source the network. There are many reasons for doing this and many advantages we want to highlight.

 

  • Expanding Capacity: There are well over a hundred consultants in LLC’s network who bring a broad range of skills and expertise that enables us to create the best possible match with the distinct needs of consulting projects. If we were to limit applied research opportunities to the skills of the staff we would not have the same agility in competing for super interesting projects that we feel can accelerate learning for the field.

 

  • Capacity Building: Early on we were inspired to create consulting teams to provide opportunities for consultants who are often competitors with proprietary tools to be on teams together that promote collaborative learning and resource generation.

 

  • Creating Opportunity: We also see our consulting services as opportunity for people in the network to access meaningful projects and gain visibility. We have committed to making sure that 50% of consulting opportunities go to people of color, and we are doing much better than that. We raise this because consulting can open doors for people of color or obscure discriminatory practices.

 

In short we like to say that instead of staffing an organization we staff the work. Now we would like to introduce you to the folks that have been helping us to do the work over the past year!

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Organizing, Openness and Community-Oriented Solutions with Ericka Stallings

By:  Marrion Johnson, LLC Communications Consultant

 

We decided to launch a search for a co-executive director of Leadership Learning Community for a few reasons. For one, as an advocate of thinking beyond the narrow limitations of hierarchical leadership models, we wanted to practice what we were preaching and invest in the possibilities of shared leadership, which decreases burnout and brings more voices to decision-making tables. Secondly, and equally important, we really wanted to center equity in leadership work and make space for leadership of color to thrive in an atmosphere that, quite frankly, is overwhelmingly white. So, when we met Ericka Stallings, an engaging, curious and experienced organizer from Queens, New York, we instantly knew that she might be the perfect person to help propel LLC into the future.

 

Some of you may be familiar with Ericka who shared a blog post and led a workshop of ours last summer entitled “6 Lessons forCultivating Leadership of Color in the Community Organizing Movement,” which Ericka says was an accumulation of knowledge gained from years of doing social justice work as an “organizer of organizers.” As LLC’s communications consultant, I spoke with Ericka about her experiences, inspirations and perspectives on leadership. Dig into our conversation below and join us in welcoming Ericka to the team!

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Now Available: Basic and Intermediate Network Leadership Training Modules

For those who are leading complex issues, using network approaches can increase reach, and activate and mobilize more people and resources to advance work on critical social issues.


 

Leadership programs have an opportunity to build the network competency of the individuals and groups they support. In2018, in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Leadership Learning Community began to support an emerging meta network of people working across a range of social factors like housing, transportation, food systems, etc., that can enhance or limit health. The purpose of this network was to create the conditions for everyone to live the healthiest life possible, in addition to connecting work across multiple issues.

 

We’re excited to share a set of Network Leadership modules with our leadership development practitioner community.

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BIG NEWS….LLC has hired a Co-Director!

We are excited to share this big news with you, but before we get to the introduction of Ericka Stallings, we first want to take a minute to thank members of the LLC network, the board and many candidates who have been on this important journey with us, and shaped our learning and decision making. The entire process has been a win because all of the candidates we spoke with had many talents to bring to LLC’s work, and as a network we are confident that we will find other opportunities to tap their wisdom and expertise! Next month we will share an article of lessons learned about how we anchored this process in our values, kept equity front and center, engaged the network and, slowed down to benefit from collaborative learning and reflection.   

 

And without further delay, we are excited to introduce you to Ericka Stallings. Ericka comes to us from the Association for Neighborhood Housing and Development where she was the Deputy Director for Capacity Building and Strategic Initiatives. In her role, Ericka ran and helped to develop the innovative Center for Community Leadership. If you read her blog post or attended the LLC webinar on “Important Lessons for Cultivating Leadership of Color in Community Organizing“ you know that she brings deep wisdom about supporting the leadership of people of color, and about supporting the leadership of people closest to the problems we are trying to solve. (If you missed the blog and webinar, it's not too late to check them out.) Through her work at the intersection of leadership, equity and advocacy, Ericka brings an important perspective on power. This wisdom, experience, and skill is critical to taking LLC’s work centering equity in leadership to the next level, so look out!

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Creating Space for Transformational Board Leadership

 

If you’re reading this, you have likely worked with nonprofit board members in some capacity - perhaps as a coach, a nonprofit staff member or executive, a funder, or even as a board member yourself. Having the right board members engaged in useful ways can prove critical to the success of an organization, support its leadership to navigate challenges and transitions, to prioritize goals and to pivot when necessary.

 

Yet high levels of board engagement - where board members go above and beyond - can be difficult for many executive directors to foster. As members of Leadership Learning Community’s board, we saw our 2018 retreat as an opportunity to reshape our board culture. LLC grounds leadership for social change in shared responsibility that arises out of trusting relationships, authenticity, and generosity. With four new members and a new Board Chair transitioning in over the past 18 months, it was the perfect opportunity to intentionally build a board culture that leaned further into LLC’s values and approaches.

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