There are several ways in which we need to expand our understanding of leadership:Move from thinking about leadership as a capacity and quality that an individual possesses and recognize that leadership is a process that happens in groups, communities and networks. “Leadership arises whenever people work together and make meaning of their experiences and when people participate in collaborative forms of action across the dividing lines of perspective, values, beliefs, and cultures.” (Drath and Palus)Groups of people bond together to support one another and get things done.Groups form all the time. Social networking platforms, like meetup or facebook, are great examples of how people self-organize around shared interest, shared purpose or shared identity easily and quickly to combine their resources for greater impact
When we think of leadership as the behaviors of an individual rather than an interconnected and relational process among many engaged in change, it follows that investing in the skills of an individual leader is a good change strategy for changing organizations and their ability to improve the lives of individuals and communities they serve. Over the past 20 years most investment have been made in building the skills of individuals or organizational capacity. We need to more explicitly identify, measure and hold ourselves accountable to the actual change we are seeking in the condition of lives of people and the planet.
We need to think differently about leadership if we are going to address the complex challenges we face. Our current model of leadership is not scalable. We invest lots of resources in individual leader development but we can’t reach the scale of leadership we need developing one person at a time. We often focus on people who have benefited from opportunities that have helped them to attain positions and influence without reaching people who have not had access to opportunities often along lines of class and race. We need to find, cultivate, and connect leadership everywhere it exists, across all generations, across all races, classes, and cultures, across all levels of organization.Our heroic ideas about leadership make us blind to the fact that leadership exists everywhereIt’s often invisible and hidden from us because we have neither the framework nor the relationships to notice and see it, or if we do we actively reject it as leadership.The fragmented way we develop and support leaders maintains the status quo, it doesn’t have the impact we need. We believe there is boundless untapped leadership potential that we need to find, nurture and connect to reach the scale of leadership we need to have a greater impact.
We would like to share several examples of problems that have capture our attention because they are achieving impressive results. One thing that we want to underscore in this presentation is that a common thread through several examples that we will present it that all of these programs set their sites high and were going after a population level change rather than a improved skills on the part of individual leaders.
So how does LAP do this:LAP starts with an accountability that publicly declares the result a priority (so in the case of Baltimore the accountability partners were the mayor, the head of the AECF, and a business executive). They put out a call to action and funded the Leadership in Action Program to make measurable improvements in school readiness, among children from low-income families in Baltimore neighborhoods. The program developed a brochure that made a compelling case for who was needed to accelerate change: “people who are already working hard to improve the prospects of disadvantaged kids and families. Agency managers, educators, business people, leaders of nonprofits, public officials, parents, child advocates. People with the know-how, resources, and willingness to play an active role.”The accountability partner invited up to a diverse group of 40 participants to join the effort because of their ideas, influence, and the resources they brought to the table. Leaders from government, managers of public agencies, nonprofit directors, business people, child advocates, community leaders, and residents. The program focuses on building four competencies: results-based accountability, race, class and culture, collaborative leadership, and leading from the middle. The LAP program design is based on the Theory of Aligned Contribution
LCW is a network organizing approach to community building. They have developed a menu of options for residents of Lawrence to engage with one another, and develop their collective leadership skills. They often start by organizing neighbor circles -- encourage people to meet each other where they are, in their neighborhoods, where they are and take time to have fun and get to know each other personally, provide many points of entry for people to get involved through their family asset building department (to learn how to establish an individual development account, or take a computer class, or ESL classes), hold networking nights where people can gather socially over food and showcase unsuspected talents or recruit a guest speaker. Or through NeighborCircles – facilitated conversations with a group of neighbors over dinner that are focused on getting to know each other, identifying common challenges in the area and developing discrete, manageable projects for tackling those challenges.LCW intentionally creates doors and links their programs so that people can come in to set an IDA account, and then host a NeighborCircle. NeighborCircle leaders are often recommended for the PODER Leadership Institute – an intensive course in organizing, power analysis, collaborative governance and facilitation skills, culminating in a community campaign or project that participants implement – designed to develop leaders who can carry their new capacities out into the public arena – run for city council or school committee, join a nonprofit board, bring more people into city institutions and decision-making processes.They used many network principles in their approach that included: A focus on building relationshipsA broad ladder of engagement with many entry points.Community driven action and solutions that tapped what was most urgentA demand environment is proactive: residents create the network of relationships that support productive deliberation, and practice this process…to shape the community they want.
Lawrence Community Works is an example of a leadership strategy achieving impressive results although they do not explicitly call themselves a leadership development program. Its worth looking at how they mobilized people in the community of Lawrence, MA to accomplish what they did without building an organizational infrastructure. LCW was a backbone organization; they provided pathways for citizens to build social capital across race, class, and immigration status, and connect their efforts to achieve significant community benefit.One of the challenges 900 network members 25 affordable housing units, playgrounds, community ctr. Collaborative downtown development initiative: Created the Reviviendo Gateway Initiative, a collaboration of residents, mill owners, small business people, elected officials and agency heads driving smart and equitable growth as the guide for redevelopment of the city’s downtown, mill and adjacent residential districtsAdd something about the
The Horizons Program was launched by the Northwest Area Foundation to test the hypothesis that by focusing small rural communities on poverty reduction and enhancing their leadership systems this would result in community action on poverty in those communities, and the development of new leadership. They used eight delivery organizations (including a Tribal College) to implement the program in multiple communities across the northern plains states. This bold effort reached a remarkable 100,000 people in a 6 year period, in 238 communities, in 7 states (From Horizons 1 to Horizons 2 they learned that there needed to be not only a focus on community leadership, but also a sustained focus on leadership for poverty reduction.)
When the program was evaluated at the end of six years, they documented thousands of new leaders in communities, in fact the majority of participants in Horizons were new to leadership. Community governance was beginning to change to become more accessible and transparent in at least half the communities. Over time some people were even running for elective office. 1800 poverty reduction plans were implemented; over half the communities, focused on reducing poverty among children and youth, including early childhood education, youth services, youth mentoring, youth recreation and other programs; 40% are engaged in job creation, job skills training, micros-enterprise or other business development. There was a lot of activity that generated $21 million in new resources. Undoubtedly community effects of the Horizons program are still being felt in these communities, and it would be interesting to go back now almost 6 years after the program ended to see what the longer term results have been. In what ways are communities working to reduce poverty? Is there a measurable reduction in poverty? How has the community leadership system been transformed so that more citizens have a voice in community governance, and that resources are more equitably distributed.
No one individual or organization will be able to solve complex problems working alone. To tackle complex and systemic problems connect people in different parts of a system or community to achieve collective impact. creative potential of groups and the power of collective impact.
KLCC organized around different results in different years, e.g. quality of learning, adult/youth partnerships. They worked with partners in the communities where they were focused to get close to the ground in recruiting the right people. The boundaries of their program were porous. There was a core group with others who could move in and out based on availability.They focused on creating ‘gracious space’ which invested time in developing relationships, identifying different skills that people brought and that could be tapped, fostering an environment for honest conversations about power and historic conflicts that created racial and other divides and they developed collaborative skills in the course of working together and learning from their efforts.
Many of the leadership programs described above refer to their programs as “containers”. With a strategic eye toward recruitment these containers have the potential to build relationships across silos. Several leadership programs like those sponsored by the Initiatives Foundation or the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health have created recruitment guidelines that are focused on the groups that needed to be better supported in working together to make a difference. The leadership cohort is an unique opportunity to overcome the legacy of siloed efforts
To advance community solutions will require the ability to engage a diversity of perspectives, especially those closest to the problems. In CA three foundations: Irvine, Packard and Hewlett pulled together to launch the Community Leadership Project and multipronged strategy for building leadership and organizational capacity in low income and communities of color in targeted the Central Valley, Central Coast and Bay Area. These strategies recognize the need to invest more heavily in groups that have not had access to resources and opportunity. Claire do you want to share lesson here and link this to national issues given changing demographics and issues of both tribal and immigrant communities.
Over the years many leadership program have utilized action learning projects as an important adult learning tool that provides participants an opportunity to apply. Programs like LAP are focusing instead on action learning approaches that help people learn to leverage the resources of their current work or positions by working in new ways with others. (give the ReAMP example as well) Action projects are often very limited in the duration and impact as short term projects to be completed during a program experience. Action learning that aligns the work of participants on a shared purpose will more likely be sustained to have impact beyond a program.
As the potential of networks have played out nationally and globally leadership programs are beginning to recognize the untapped potential of graduate networks. Until recently these networks have been tapped as resources for the program (mentors, or curriculum partners) but now programs are asking how their networks of graduates can be activated around their social purpose. Some programs like Switzer are having some success with network strategies but often times the actual design of a leadership approach can undermine network potential. Water quality issues for public health and river restoration working to raise the connection between these issues. Looking for more and equitable ways of dealing with issues and connecting with the local research university around it.
As an example many leadership programs are still introducing leadership models that do not support network behavior.
As we focus more on the social purpose we hope to achieve through our leadership work we need to think differently about recruitment, it won’t be enough to focus on individuals. We should not miss out on the opportunity to connect people who need to work in new ways. Leadership programs focused on and monitoring larger change are thinking about how to help people connect around an issues, align their efforts, reach out to others and learn from these efforts.
2012 Webinar: Strengthening the Collective Impact of Leadership Development
OCTOBER | 2012Strengthening theCollective Impact ofLeadership Development
Why Think Differently About Leadership?Our current models will not… • Achieve large scale results • Reach many who want to act • Build collaborative capacity • Activate networks • Tackle complex problems
Starting with PurposeA commitment to population level results can change: • Program design • Recruitment • Curriculum • Networks • Impact
Leadership in Action Program•Publicly declare the result a priority•Gather and mobilize key leaders to workcollaboratively in new ways•Provide training and support to pick up thepace of change and get concrete, measurableresults. Not someday, now.
Theory of Aligned Contributions Pillsbury, Goddard-Truit, Littlefield, Cross –Sector Performance Accountability: Making Aligned Contributions to Improve Community Well-being (2010)
Lawrence Community Works • Meet people where they are • Focus on relationships • Organize neighbor circles • Offer many opportunities for leadership • Ensure that form follows function Bill Traynor, Building Community in Place: • Cultivate the leader as Limitations and Promise (April 2007) connector
LCW Accomplishments• 6,000 network members • An inclusive downtown• Movement City Youth network development planning process focused on • Dozens of affordable housing design, technology, and the units, playgrounds and arts community centers Images: Lawrence Community Works Website, Bruner Loeb Forum
The Horizons Program Can we develop the leadership capacity in hundreds of rural communities to take action on poverty? Yes!!! In 6 years, over 100,000 rural people engaged; from 283 communities; across 7 states.
Key Elements of Horizons Study Circles Leadership Small Grants Plenty Coaching: Community Action Plans Visioning
Horizon’s Leadership Impact• Thousands of new leaders in communities• Half the communities report more accessible and transparent governance• 2/3 report increased civic engagement• Over 1,800 poverty reduction plans have implemented• $21,000,000 in new resources has been generated
Lessons from These Programs • Get clear on social purpose and desired community benefit • Focus on group composition in recruiting • Anchor action learning to existing work • Build relationships and cultivate networks
Tie Recruitment to ResultsWho needs to be connected in order to achieve your desired result?
KLCC and Recruitment• First Indian Education Plan in A Montana School District• Passage of a $112,000 school construction bond• Youth led community digital storytelling project on education to inform school policy
From Silos to Collaboration Public Health EnvironmentalPublic Health Community Environmental Community Business Business