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Leaderful ecosystems create a powerful people path forward for advancing justice.

Cultivating Leaderful Ecosystems

Photo credit: Alison LinPhoto credit: Alison LinLeadership is not a codified set of structures, practices, people, or a fixed state.

Leadership is the capacity to create something of meaning and align values and actions across groups of people or communities. It is about relationships among people and how they support, complement, and supplement each other and the broader ecosystem. Transformative change requires a larger bench of leaders who engage in and expand leadership, and who can flex easily across a spectrum of leadership approaches that make sense in different contexts for different purposes.

Vincent Pan of
Chinese for Affirmative Action, and a former Network Leadership Innovation Lab participant, has said, “In order for movements to succeed, we have to de-center, grow, and redistribute leadership. We need to see our organizations and ourselves in a different way.” Several years ago, in an effort to support leaderful ecosystems, Chinese for Affirmative Action made  a core commitment to leverage assets to create space and a home base for progressive Asian Americans in the Bay Area. This commitment evolved into the Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality network, which allows for more equitable resource sharing amongst its members—groups organizing on a range of social justice issues—and the exchange of ideas in service of shared values. For more on this story, please refer to our article, Cultivating Leaderful Ecosystems, in the Nonprofit Quarterly. 

Photo credit: Alison LinPhoto credit: Alison LinTo grow leadership from this interconnected place, we believe that we must support leadership that: engages the broader system and networks of leaders within it; builds relationships to embody equity; uses flexible approaches—sometimes more directive and other times more collaborative; values the wisdom of, and contribution from, multiple voices and perspectives; and creates the space for the inner work needed for lasting transformation.

Leaderful Ecosystems in Action

The NorthStar Network’s Power Building

The NorthStar Network is a network of progressive leaders from across different movements who work toward building long-term power together. Supported by Social Transformation Project with Change Elemental consultants and others, their work includes visioning, strategizing, experimenting, and muscle-building, grounded in rigor and inspired by radical hope.

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Co-creators Cultivating Leaderful Ecosystems

We partner with so many incredible people supporting leaders and cultivating leaderful ecosystems. Here we name just a few that inspire us to learn and deepen our practices.

Move to End Violence

Move to End Violence supports leaders in the U.S. movement to end violence against girls and women to step back from their daily work to envision the change they want to see, imagine new strategies, and build the capacity needed to realize this change.

Leadership Learning Community

Leadership Learning Community seeks to transform the way leadership development work is conceived, conducted and evaluated, primarily within the nonprofit sector by identifying and applying cutting-edge ideas and promising practices in the leadership development field.