Generating ideas, connections, and action


Non-Traditional Approaches to Developing Non-Traditional Leadership | The Complete Series

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If you haven't already, we encourage you to read the "Non-Traditional Approaches to Developing Non-Traditional Leadership | The Complete Series." This series details modules that support non-traditional leaders.
Each article is linked below:

Creating Space A Labor Of Love

Creating Space is by far one of my most favorite LLC events. So as you can imagine, it’s getting harder to rein in the excitement with only a few weeks left to go.


As I reflect on why this event is one of my favorites, it  really starts with all of you. Creating Space is where we are able to connect face-to-face and deepen our connections. We  learn about your current work and how we are all influencing the leadership development field and together continue to expand our collective knowledge. These are three days of genuine connection building. I have fond memories of many deep conversations that I keep circling back to in the many phases of my own work. I’ve had expansive conversations on networks, leadership development, and equity. I’ve heard and shared stories of the challenges of balancing self-care and the urgency of community needs on the field.  I reflect back on what I learn from many of you in Baltimore, Oakland, and Detroit and am continuously sustained by the commitment and dedication all of you have to continue to transform our society.

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Why We Are Talking About Non-Traditional Leadership? A Conversation With Sheena Solomon

For this article we interviewed Creating Space design team member, Sheena Solomon from the Gifford Foundation.  After all, who better to ask about why non-traditional leadership than a member of the design team?


Sheena was inspired to ask the question about non-traditional leadership and who is a leader because as she explained, “When I have conversations with everyday people doing extraordinary things they don’t see themselves as leaders although they are all about the community and they have followers and credibility.  The community sees them as honest and they are trusted to speak for community.”

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GUEST BLOG: AnnJanette Rosga

By AnnJanette Rosga, Director, Informing Change


In May of this year, the Management Assistance Group’s Network Leadership Innovation Lab (MagLab) released a very inspiring evaluation report on its first iteration of an “ongoing program of dialogue, analysis, partnership, co-creation, and active learning to strengthen progressive movement leaders.”

As someone who is excited by all kinds of action learning projects (five of which MagLab spawned), I’m writing here to both recommend and briefly summarize this report for those of you who might not have time to benefit from its full 50+ pages.

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GUEST BLOG: The Most Impactful Leaders You’ve Never Heard Of by Jane Wei-Skillern, David Ehrlichman, & David Sawyer

Originally posted on Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Network entrepreneurs are ensuring that systems-level, collaborative efforts not only succeed, but thrive.

Collaboration has taken the social sector by storm. Collective impact, social media, and other tools play important roles, ensuring that the right structures, resources, and technologies are in place for groups to successfully work together. But while these approaches have advanced collaboration in practice, we believe that on their own, they are insufficient for achieving transformational change. In the rush toward readily available solutions to social problems, we often overlook a powerful missing link.

In our research and experience, the single most important factor behind all successful collaborations is trust-based relationships among participants. Many collaborative efforts ultimately fail to reach their full potential because they lack a strong relational foundation.

The new leaders at the heart of some of today’s most sophisticated, large-scale solutions to the world’s social problems—network entrepreneurs—are undoubtedly some of the most accomplished leaders that you’ve never heard of, and they are ensuring that systems-level, collaborative efforts not only succeed, but thrive.
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Guest Blog: Undoing Patterns of Privilege as We Learn by Laurin Mayeno


Undoing Patterns of Privilege as We Learn

In my work with organizations around race, power and privilege, I’ve noticed a pattern. Sometimes we anticipate defensiveness on the part of white people in the group and plan our sessions to accommodate this defensiveness. I’ve begun correcting this pattern and setting goals more proactively. At the same time, I have become hyper aware that a primary reasons we’re doing this work is that people of color may feel unsafe, unsupported, and even silenced. I’ve been wondering how to make their needs a higher priority in the work. read more »

“My weariness is rooted in realizing how often starting the race conversation with white privilege automatically centers the experience of white folks.” Austin Channing Brown

Non-Traditional Approaches to Developing Non-Traditional Leadership: Learning from Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative

As the countdown continues to Creating Space 2015 we are shining a light on Grand Rapids, MI as we lift up the work of the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative, yet another innovative non-traditional leadership development approach to developing non-traditional leadership.  We like to express our appreciation and send a big shout out to Nkechy Ezeh who took time to share their story.  The short posts explains why the program was developed, who is being supported to lead, how they are supported and what we can learn from this model about leadership development.


The ELNC grew out of a need for increased access to Early Care and Education Programs.  The years from birth to three are so critical that children from low-income homes may be at such a disadvantage that even if they are able to attend a quality preschool, they may remain behind more economically advantaged peers.  To change this, the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative provides technical, developmental, and educational support to neighborhood partners in order to increase the accessibility of early educational resources for children in Grand Rapids.

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Non-Traditional Approaches to Developing Non-Traditional Leadership: Learning from Detroit Parent Network

As we prepare to head to Detroit (and we hope you will be as well) we are really enjoying learning about interesting approaches to developing non-traditional leadership in the city we will be visiting.  We are definitely going to the right place to learn about innovative approaches to leadership development.  This week we are shining a light on the work of the Detroit Parent Network, a nonprofit organization that supports parents to make the Detroit area a better place to raise and educate children.  Detroit Parent Network’s mission is to develop powerful parents (and primary caregivers) who are equipped to get the best education possible for their children.

Detroit Parent Network was founded in 2002 by a small group of parents and community leaders seeking to protect area children from instability in the economic and political climate by increasing and strengthening parent involvement in their homes, schools and communities.  They established the organization to empower parents by: continuously strengthening leadership and parenting skills; building a better understanding of educational issues, laws, and policies; supporting parents in their efforts to identify high-performing schools, services, and programs for their children; and connecting parents to each other in a learning and support network.

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Webinar: Self Organized Leadership in Networks: Lessons from Occupy Sandy and the People’s Climate March | October 21, 2015

Join Us for Our Upcoming Webinar: Self Organized Leadership in Networks: Lessons from Occupy Sandy and the People’s Climate March
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 | 11am PT
When Hurricane Sandy hit, a self organized network quickly emerged from pre-existing networks and new volunteers that resoundingly out performed traditional relief agencies.  Why and how was this network able to do this?  What does leadership look like in situations such as this that are complex and ever shifting? We will explore the nuts and bolts of self organizing, strategies for supporting such networks and how self organized strategies and leadership can be applied to your work on complex problems.
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Webinar Recap: Boundary Spanning Leadership Integrated with Network Development | September 21, 2015

Welcome back to our networks and leadership webinar series! We host this space for practitioners and researchers in both the leadership and network development areas to connect and learn from each other. Our introductory webinar is archived here (slides & video).




Our presenter Chris Ernst is a four-way player: He is active in both research and practice of both leadership development and organizational network analysis. Chris is VP of Leadership and OE at Juniper Networks and a former senior faculty member of the Center for Creative Leadership.

We invite you to review an optional pre-read for this webinar, Bright, Shiny Objects and the Future of HR, (Harvard Business Review, July 2015), which puts this work at Juniper into a business HR context.

In this interactive workshop, Chris will shared how Juniper Networks is reimagining the way work gets done in networked organizations. Drawing upon the best-selling book Boundary Spanning Leadership, participants were able to:

  1. Identify five type of boundaries that limit innovation and the organizational practices to overcome them
  2. Experience a case study at Juniper, including what’s working and traps encountered
  3. Harvest ideas about how to put boundary spanning leadership and organizational networks into practice

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