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Leadership Learning Community Bay Area Learning Circle
Welcomed the DataCenter on Shared Leadership
October 21, 2009 from 3:00PM-5:00PM
California Endowment 1111 Boardway, 7th Floor Oakland

The Leadership Learning Community was excited to have Miho Kim and Celia Davis of DataCenter, a recipient of a 2008 LLCCommunity Seed Fund grant share their learning about the "Shared Leadership" model the Center adopted in 2006. With support from the LLCCommunity Seed Fund grant, in the Spring of 2009, the DataCenter facilitated three sessions on shared leadership with organizations and individuals in the Bay Area. The DataCenter's work on shared leadership was and is very much in alignment with a collaborative initiative the Leadership Learning Community was just beginning, Leadership for a New Era (LNE). This initiative promotes a shift from the status quo of the individual as leader model to a collective model that is inclusive, rooted in community, and action-oriented (see the LNE website which is a collaborative workspace) - the main topics for this initiative are Leadership and Race, Leadership and Networks, Collective Leadership and Leadership Across Difference.

Founded in 1977, DataCenter is a movement infrastructure institution that advocates for Research Justice, engaging community partners and professional allies in grassroots-led organizing and advocacy. Becoming an anti-racist, multicultural organization has been a stated strategic priority since 2003, and to that end, DataCenter adopted the Shared Leadership Model in 2006, a value-based, alternative leadership structure intended to deconstruct institutional hierarchy in the context of a 501(c)3.

It was a great meeting with many more questions raised, as the folks from the DataCenter promised, but little time to address them. Consequently, an email will be sent out to the participants inviting them to post their questions on the Leadership for a New Era wiki in the Collective Leadership section. Those questions will then collected and included in an interview with Miho Kim.

The meeting opened with brief introductions followed by an introduction to the work of the DataCenter. The Center decided to expand the scope of the "we" and study themselves as a social justice movement and see what they come up with. The staff process was facilited by Pat St. Onge who was the interim director at the time. As the Center began to engage on this lengthy process, one of the first pieces of work was to unpack peoples definitions of leadership and power. An early observation was that there was a great deal of silo-ing going on in the old structure, a lack of cross pollination. Miho informed participants in the room that in this work, the product was the process - and that they needed to have benchmarks so that people did not get process burnout.

Some of the questions, thoughts and observations that emerged in the room:
  • Readiness factor would be something that needed to be in place before embarking on the journey.
  • Could be a useful tool - and what would it mean to do this now?
  • What are the different ways to apply the tool?
  • What can be integrated?
  • It's really a process and process here is everything.
  • Set of values are posted on the wall (these are our values and principles) - each person contributes to the quilt.
Each person contributes a square to the Values and Principles quilt which represents the DataCenter Constitution. When making decisions - "I have the mandate to make decisions on a particular matter, but must consider the values and principles in the decision-making process.

Shared Leadership requires that the spirit of reciprocity is played out in concrete terms. Traditionally, leadership has been externally defined - shared leadership is not about a model you can grab on to, rather it's a journey. A never ending process that is focused on delivering and fulfilling the mission. It requires a significant investment of time - need for a long term commitment. One thing that emerges from shared leadership is that it challenges peoples barriers, really about the process - it goes very deep (think about ones own internalized racism, sexism, etc.). In a sense, it is really about personal transformation. Also, it is important that this is incremental as did not want to push peoples safety boundaries.

Meeting Resources
Following the meeting the DataCenter provided electronic copies of some of the resources they used at the meeting.

Latest page update: made by nataliallc , Oct 12 2010, 3:08 PM EDT (about this update About This Update Moved from: Collective Leadership - nataliallc

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