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Boston Learning Circle: Conversation About Leadership and NetworksThis is a featured page

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The great project of the twenty-first century --
understanding how the whole of humanity comes to be greater than the sum of its parts --
is just beginning.
Like an awakening child, the human superorganism is becoming self-aware,
and this will surely help us to achieve our goals.
But the greatest gift of this awareness will be the sheer joy of self-discovery
and the realization that to truly know ourselves,
we must first understand how and why we are all connected.

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives
by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler


Gibran Rivera (Interaction Institute for Social Change) and Claire Reinelt (Leadership Learning Community or LLC) thank everyone who came to the Boston Learning Circle gathering (3/26/10). What a great group from so many diverse places all interested in networks and leadership! (see list of participants below)

We introduced ourselves by the types of network leadership roles we play.
  • Network organizer (e.g., someone who frames the value proposition and establishes the first links to participants)
  • Network weaver (e.g., someone who works to increases connections among participants, closing triangles or making connections to new participant)
  • Network funder or sponsor (e.g., providing resources for organizing and on-going support of networks)
  • Network facilitator or coordinator (e.g., create the conditions for self-organizing, ensure flow of information and other resources)
  • Technology steward of a network (e.g., facilitate the network use of online technologies to learn, coordinate, connect or share information together)
  • Other roles we named included: igniters, broadcasters, translators, knowledge managers and coaches

We used a World Cafe to explore the following questions.

  • What attracts us (as leaders) to create connections with other leaders and to sustain and evolve those relationships over time?
      • A source of support (Networks don't have enough support)
      • Do you focus on individuals or the whole network?
      • Conflicts emerge in networks which can be creative and bring different perspectives
      • Distinction between network and communities -- communities of practice are a subset of networks
      • No such thing as a leader, but people exercise leadership
      • Switch roles, leadership transfers
      • People who bring vision and participate in different networks; they have knowledge and power, more than just connections
      • Orchestrator, keeping balance, able to influence
      • Energy, shared resources, creativity, wisdom, knowledge
  • What are essential conditions for network development and self-organizing for positive social change?
      • Crucible of fire/conflict to let go of an old story and build something else together
      • Trust, authenticity, have dialogue to work through in a caring way that you are there with each other
      • Realize that you are not always right
      • Stipends/small amounts of money that value participation in networks; let's me prioritize it
      • Having shared emotional experiences at the heart level
      • Connect through facebook, build on that
      • Need to keep in mind the life cycle of networks
      • Have meaningful roles
  • What binds me to others in networks and holds me, and others with me, accountable for creating results (like justice and health in our communities)?
      • Trust and faith in the group
      • Having space to make meaning of experience, to look together at edge questions
      • How are we going to build trust? (asked as a lament)
      • Having a shared treasure, desire to preserve, align and share something you can't get anywhere else
      • Peer accountability
      • Rituals and roles
      • Networks need to bind, behave like high performance teams (how do you do that?)
      • Money holds us accountable
      • Being receptive, being heard
      • Breaking bread together
      • Shared vision

We shared stories from our own experiences in small groups of four to five people. We listened to each others' experiences and connected them to our own, making new meaning in the process. We invite you to pay attention to how the connections you made, the conversations you had manifest themselves in your thinking, your actions, your work.
  • What is the power of creating reflective space for building relationships across differences?
  • How do we create trust?
  • What do we take away from these conversations that endures and transforms?
  • What are your takeaway questions?

How To Stay Connected?


List of Participants:

First Name: Last Name: Organization:
Adam Shyevitch Boston After School & Beond
anita lauricella Lauricella and Associates
Benjamin Ericson Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley
Beth Tener New Directions Collaborative
Bruce Hoppe Connective Associates LLC
Cecilia Roddy Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps
Cindy Mackenzie Dana Farber Cancer Inst.
Cyndi Suarez Northeast Action
Cynthia Ward Northeast Action
Deborah Gilburg Gilburg Leadership Incorporated
Denise Riebman Heller School, Brandeis University
Elizabeth Clay Be the Change, Inc.
Evelyn Barahona LDD Barahona and CC4Kidz
grady mcgonagill mcgonagill consulting
Heather McMann Groundwork Lawrence
James Chen Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Janeen Smith Boston Center for Community and Justice
Marty Zanghi Muskie School of Public Service-University of Southern Maine
Melissa DeFreece Tufts University
mindy Gewirtz Collaborative Networks
Naava Frank Knowledge Communities
Nance Goldstein Brandeis University WSRC
Patti Anklam Net Work
Prentice Zinn GMA Foundations
Rachel Szyman Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University
Rachel Happe The Community Roundtable
Samantha Tan The Meristem Group
Susan Foster Independent consultant
Tim Comeaux Brockton Neighborhood Health Center
Valerie Paric One Family, Inc.

Latest page update: made by nataliallc , Oct 12 2010, 2:56 PM EDT (about this update About This Update Moved from: Leadership and Networks (Overview and Resources) - nataliallc

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creinelt What are your takeaway insights & questions from the Boston gathering? 0 Mar 26 2010, 4:23 PM EDT by creinelt
Thread started: Mar 26 2010, 4:23 PM EDT  Watch
What keeps resonating with you since the conversation? What deeper questions are you asking?

What keeps resonating with me is the fundamental need to make a much stronger case for investing in network approaches to leadership development and community-building so that we have the space to build trusted relationships. Those of us doing this work know how vitally important this is. I can't wait for the day when network leadership development is recognized as the future of leadership development.
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creinelt Questions We Are Asking About Leadership and Networks 1 Mar 12 2010, 4:32 PM EST by nataliallc
Thread started: Mar 5 2010, 10:39 AM EST  Watch
I'm really excited about our upcoming gathering on Leadership and Networks at The Boston Foundation on March 26th. Those who are coming shared with us what they hope from participating. I've illuminated some of the underlying questions that emerged from reading those responses. I find these questions very provocative and look forward to digging deeper when we get together.

How is network leadership being developed and supported in communities of color?
How do we organize our work to better support network participation?
How do we learn to tap into networks?
How do we connect to other leaders and have fun?
How do we create dynamic teams?
What examples do we have of team leadership? Can we share our stories?
How do we learn together in ways that we can share with others (especially with youth and residents)?
What are practical strategies for sustaining leadership networks?
What are the deeper insights into the motives, incentives and barriers involved in sustaining leadership networks?

You also shared with us that you are joining our gathering on the 26th to have real time to think about leadership and networks, to reflect on your own networks, to learn and gain perspective, to connect with others who are thinking about leadership and networks, and to have a chance to discuss a topic your passionate about.

As organizers of this gathering, Gibran and I would love to hear your questions. What are you pondering about leadership and networks? What do you believe we need to pay attention to as we learn together about how to lead through networks?

If you are interested in joining us in Boston, you can still register to come. http://www.leadershipforanewera.org/

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