Cultivating Leaderful Ecosystems
Leadership 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
John W. Mack Fellows of the Weingart Foundation
The John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows Program is designed to support next-generation movement leaders to advance social justice and racial equity work that will result in a more just and equitable Southern California. Supported by the Weingart Foundation with Change Elemental consultants and others, the program cultivates adaptive leadership, cohort-based learning, and support for staff well-being, based on a dynamic and systems perspective of leadership.Learn More
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.
Rockwood Leadership InstituteRockwood provides social change leaders with the tools and skills to help change themselves and their communities.
CompassPointCompassPoint is a national nonprofit leadership practice that helps leaders, nonprofit organizations, and movements committed to social justice realize their full power by engaging multiple forms of wisdom and expression.
Social Transformation Project & The Northstar Network
The NorthStar Network is a network of progressive leaders from across different movements who work toward building long-term power together. Their work includes visioning, strategizing, experimenting, and muscle-building, grounded in rigor and inspired by radical hope.