Generating ideas, connections, and action

collective leadership

Actualizing Evolutionary Co-Leadership: Bay Area Learning Circle Reflections

Why are new forms of leadership urgently needed?

This month our Bay Area participants brought necessary questions about Collective Leadership to a Learning Circle on October 1st.

A bright sunny room filled with 19 participants from all over the Bay Area at the California Endowment set the stage to learn about Evolutionary Co-Leadership with Alain Gauthier of Core Leadership Development. To begin,  Alain first engaged participants by asking them to share in small groups  what “evolutionary” means for each person. In small table groups participants shared definitions that included viewing evolution as a biological and anthropological process, a process of growth and learning, and of adaptation and innovation for survival. Many of us at the circle also likened evolution to progress, continuation and improvement. We were asked to share our experiences of collective leadership and the questions we bring. Questions surfaced around the role of an individual’s identity in the collective process, how accountability is achieved, what degree of openness is required, and ways to equitably bring together stakeholders regardless of positional leadership status.

 read more »

Leadership for Social Change: Guest Blog Post from LDIR

Developing Social Change Leaders

Authors: Carmen Morgan and Povi-Tamu Bryant of Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR)

Note: This is a follow up article for the recent webinar Developing Social Change Leaders: 
Practices and Perspectives on Fostering an Intersectional Approach to Identity and Social Justice
, featuring Carmen Morgan and Povi-Tamu Bryant of Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR) 


Leadership for Social Change

While many leadership programs seek to build the management and organizational skills of an executive, or to develop the leadership qualities of the individual leaders, the Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR) program is rooted in a social justice perspective and feels that effective leaders need the ability to facilitate collaboration among diverse people across lines of race, class, religion, sexual orientation, as well as across sectors and disciplines. read more »

Consultative Sessions/Peer Assists: An Exercise in Collective Leadership

Over the years, as part of LLC’s consulting services we have from time to time conducted what we call consultative sessions. Other people call them peer assists. June Holley describes the process she uses in the Network Weavers Handbook. Regardless of the language I am sure we all share some similar premises: read more »

  • There is great learning value in digging into concrete examples to apply our best thinking on a question, problem or issue.
  • Our applied thinking is enriched by a diversity of perspectives, and not just the usual suspects. 
  • All participants benefit from the learning produced by an exchange among diverse peers, not just the subject of the consultative session. 
  • The group can generate thinking that goes beyond the ideas of any one participant in the process.
  • Despite the assumptions we make about busyness, people are very generous with their time when it comes to helping a project/program doing good work and the chance to hang out with cool people.

Transition Process: Practicing Collective Leadership Skills

By Natalia Castañeda and Deborah Meehan

As part of the transition process, Deborah and I decided to participate in Eugene Eric Kim’s Changemaker Bootcamp.  According to Eugene, the bootcamp is a space for people trying to make positive change in their companies, communities and the world to practice the skills they need to work effectively in groups. The participants practice skills for collective leadership, including asking generative questions, strategic doing, listening and synthesizing actively and in real-time, navigating group dynamics and difficult conversations, designing and facilitating group engagements, and working transparently. Eugene provides all the templates and exercises on the Changemaker Bootcamp’s site, so Deborah and I decided to start tackling the exercises during our monthly strategy/transition check-in meeting a few weeks ago.  As part of the program, we had to select a project that we wanted to focus on, and after exploring different ideas we landed on the following: the goal of our project is to implement the team structure that will allow LLC to increase its capacity to meet needs and opportunities.  We wanted to leverage the bootcamp as a time to reflect and practice collective leadership.  The next task was to generate questions related to the goal of the project:

 read more »

A New Focus for LLC | Leadership Development Hiding in Plain Sight

Leadership Hiding in Plain Sight

This year, LLC will be focusing on the theme of  A New Leadership Development Mindset: Leadership Development Hiding in Plain Sight. In the linked article, Deborah explains and provides examples of the new lens with which we are looking at leadership development. Our intention is to identify, analyze and promote approaches that help to cultivate  leadership as a collective process. Many of these approaches are built into supporting groups as they do their work and don't necessarily conform to conventional ideas about leadership development occurs or is supported.  While we think traditional programs are important, they don’t tell the entire leadership story. What’s missing are approaches that don’t necessarily operate in a traditional leadership development space, but that support individuals who engage in joint work within a network. We'd like to also look at processes that build the capacity of individuals and groups in identifying common purpose and aligning their efforts to achieve greater impact. 


Read our statement on the Leadership Learning Community's updated mission to learn more on our belief that promoting leadership as a process that is more inclusive, networked and collective will have a greater impact in advancing equity


We have been scouting for exemplary organizations that demonstrate inclusive, networked and collective approaches. Check out these examples of the New Leadership Mindset at work:


The Energy Action Network (EAN)



Greater Grand Rapids Racial Equity Network



LINC Community Revitalization


We encourage you to connect with us via social media channels as we explore this focus:


 read more »

Transition Process: Month 7 and Lessons about Collective Leadership and Transparency

By Deborah Meehan and Natalia Castañeda


Natalia has fully taken on the role of Managing Director with enthusiastic support of the community (thank you all for your heartfelt congratulations at Creating Space), the board, and the staff.   As part of the process we each rewrote our job descriptions to reflect how we would divide up the senior level leadership responsibilities.  We have included our job descriptions for anyone who might be interested in that level of detail.  The work we have been doing has given us a chance to think more about and experiment with how to tap the collective leadership of the team.  This work has taken several forms and generated some interesting issues and proposals.


Balancing individual and collective responsibility.  One of the issues that we have struggled with throughout our history of promoting shared leadership is understanding how all of our parts are contributing to the whole and especially, how the sum of the of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  To accomplish that, we have tried out different approaches: read more »

A New Leadership Development Mindset: Leadership Development Hiding in Plain Sight

New Collective Leadership Mindset

Over three years ago, LLC published an important thought piece, “A New Leadership Mindset.”  In the article, we point out that most of our thinking about leadership has focused almost exclusively on leadership as the behavior on an individual influencing others.  We believe that our culture of individualism has permeated our leadership thinking causing us to look for and elevate the role of individuals in the change process missing another important dimension of leadership, i.e. leadership as the process by which many people align their efforts to take collective action on behalf of a common purpose.  We don’t negate the role of individuals in the leadership process; in fact, we believe that even more is required of individuals to take successful action with others. read more »

The Individual in Collective Leadership

About two weeks ago, I was referred to a news article called, “Dribbling Man,”[1] about a man who embarks on a mission to find himself. His chosen path: to walk from Seattle, Washington, USA to Brazil in time for the World Cup all while dribbling a soccer ball. Richard Swanson had planned to follow the coast until he arrived in 2014, but a mere two weeks after his journey began; he was killed in a collision near the 101 freeway on the Oregon coast. Although this was an extreme tragedy, what intrigued me the most was what I saw as Richard’s quest for purpose[2].

 read more »

The Mountaintop: The Sacrificial Lamb at the Top

Earlier this month, I attended the last Bay Area showing of Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop,[1]” a fictional play inspired by the last moments of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life. It takes place on his last day on earth, as he is battling with the public’s blame and guilt over the death of Larry Payne,[2] a 16-year old boy who died when a march lead by Dr. King turned violent the week before.  Here Dr. King is portrayed as a real person, who is not only reflecting on his life but also battling with his own demons and eventually accepts his own impending death. In this play, Martin Luther King is arrogant yet insecure. He is an adulterer but definitely a loving family man, a “King” who is undoubtedly devoted to the public’s service, and always very passionate about racial equality. Among these contradictions and passions, the play does not smooth over his humanness but rather highlights it.

 read more »

Thinking about Collective Leadership

I was flattered to be invited to speak about Collective Leadership at the recent EPIP conference in Chicago since I am a fan of the organization.  I also saw it as an opportunity to get feedback from people who are more hardwired for collective leadership.  Research by the Building Movement Project suggests that younger people are generally more collective in their leadership styles.  In research conducted by LLC for the Annie E. Casey Foundation about why there are not more people of color in leadership of the sector, we heard stories from people who were getting great results by inspiring their teams and were still given feedback that they needed to be stronger leaders, or at least stronger by the normative cultural standards.  The ways in which our culture of individual has become embedded in our models of leadership renders invisible leadership happening all around us in a more collective form.  I wondered if folks from EPIP might shed some light on this so off I went to Chicago.  I would like to extend this conversation to all of you. 

 read more »

Syndicate content