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Responding to COVID-19: LLC's Next Steps

 

The COVID-19 pandemic presents the leadership field with the challenge of both responding to the crisis in our communities while learning to operate in fundamentally different ways. It also offers us the opportunity to reimagine how leadership in a Post-COVID-19 world could look. The “new” normal doesn’t have to just replicate the imperfect and inequitable old normal. It would be a missed opportunity, and a disservice to our communities to just go back to business as usual. There is a huge danger if we were to do so; just as many of us are seeing the opportunity to make the world more just and equitable, others are seizing the opportunity to make it far less so, as several contractions of democracy and liberty across the globe indicate. 

 

LLC is exploring three distinct questions related to the leadership challenges presented by COVID-19:

  1. How do we do our Leadership Development work right now? How does COVID-19 impact our ability to conduct leadership development programming?

One of the most common conversations within the LLC Network has explored how to deliver leadership development programming given the limitations of physical distancing. For some, this has meant completely or partially canceled programs, and/or transitioning to virtual models. Practitioners are simultaneously juggling the needs of their families and communities while learning new technology and delivery approaches in an environment of tremendous financial uncertainty. 

 

There is also the question of how we will apply the learnings from this experience to leadership development program delivery in the future.  The experience of quickly pivoting to meet the demands of the current context could be taken as a chance to learn to be more emergent. 

 

  1. How do we respond to the COVID-19 crisis?

Those in the leadership development ecosystem are not only contemplating how to provide LD programming but also how their work can contribute to the COVID-19 recovery. This challenge is compounded for leadership development providers at multiservice and community-based institutions that are often the same individuals and institutions that provide critical supports to communities beyond leadership development programming. Many non-profit and grassroots actors, that were often already under-resourced, are now left scrambling to identify the best ways to support their constituencies in new ways since physical distancing requirements have eliminated some of their go-to tools and approaches, and financial resources they may have previously depended on are reasonably being redirected to direct services. While COVID-19 has certainly created new problems, importantly, it has also made more visible pre-existing problems, particularly those related to equity. Offering us both opportunity and a challenge to usher in transformative change.

 

  1. Beyond the crisis, how do we apply the leadership lessons of COVID-19? 

The COVID-19 crisis raises many questions about leadership, one of which is, to what extent is the crisis also an opportunity for transformational change. When we look at the inequity in access to treatment and outcomes so far, we see clear examples of the cost of weak and inequitable leadership, and the value of good leadership. Instead of letting the new normal just happen, the LLC network is exploring how we can intentionally craft a more equitable normal.

 

Stepping up to these challenges and opportunities will require collective action on the part of policy-makers, leadership development practitioners, capacity builders, grassroots and movement entities, and philanthropy. We will need to learn to be more nimble, innovative, responsive, equity-centered and collaborative; attributes a network model facilitates. Utilizing our experience with collective, networked and equity centered work, and our long experience working and delivering programming virtually, LLC is supporting the leadership development ecosystem in the following ways.

 

How LLC is responding?

 

  • LLC is inviting individuals in the leadership development ecosystem to share their own stories about how the COVID-19 has altered their thinking or practices.  Share your story here

  • LLC is hosting standing weekly Virtual Check-ins. These are LLC’s ‘come as you are’ Friday check-in conversations. Attendees are invited to bring coffee or a meal, depending on their time zone. Families, children, and pets are welcome as we build community together.  Each check-in is lightly structured and co-created by attendees. LLC has committed to holding these conversations for as long as there is a need for them. 

  • LLC is holding periodic interactive Webinars. Webinar topics reflect the needs expressed to LLC by folks in the ecosystem. The most recent include:

    • Network Strategies in COVID-19 Responses Friday | April 10 - VIDEO LINK

    • Peer Learning Conversation | Virtually Delivered Leadership Programs Monday | March 23 - VIDEO LINK

  • LLC has launched a COVID-19 Innovation Fund. We have redirected funding intended for other projects to support work we believe to be both timely and critically important. The modest fund is intended to support experimentation related to COVID-19 responses, and innovative leadership approaches. We are utilizing a network approach to design the entire process, select participants, and share learning.  

  • LLC is sharing informational Weekly COVID Response Bulletins to help folks access resources, tools, and otherwise share wisdom.

  • LLC is preparing to launch topic specific workgroups where participants can collectively workshop approaches to COVID-19 related leadership challenges. 

  • LLC is listening to the network, and otherwise sense making, in order to be responsive to emerging and evolving needs.