Go to the people, learn from them. Live with them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have – Lao Tzu
This training will share a framework for Leaderful Organising. It includes practices and understanding that can help organisations and groups to distribute power and leadership effectively. It offers an approach that addresses two related issues: the problems of leadership, that can lead to entrenched power interests, poor accountability, disempowerment, and traditional hierarchical structures, and; the problems of leaderlessness, where social movements and organisations, rejecting leadership adopt ‘horizontal’ structures in ways that can lack direction, continuity, and coherence.
Every group and structure uses some combination of personal agency and collaborative teamwork.
Leaderful Organising escapes the limitations of hierarchical and leadership focused organising, while avoiding the problems that arise by simply replacing leadership with leaderless and often structureless horizontality. Instead, Leaderful Organising offers practices and understanding that enable effective, accountable and agile collective action for social transformation.
The aims of the training are:
More concretely, in this training we will explore ideas, develop skills and learn practices essential to Leaderful Organising related to:
We will create a space for learning that is shaped through collective reflection, analysis, and sharing of participants’ experiences from movements across Europe. The learning will include exploring practices for self-awareness in our own use of power, holding and distributing power, holding and sharing responsibilities, and other transformative leadership qualities. We will aim to create a temporary community where our efforts to embody the values and principles of leaderfulness create a space for lived transformative learning.
Who is it aimed at?
Anyone involved in socially engaged action addressing ecological, political and social justice issues. We embrace a broad definition of action, including: Resistance – action preventing further damage to ecosystems and social justice; Renewal – action focused on developing and creating alternatives for healthier societies and communities; and Building Resilience – action supporting increased resilience in communities to weather the uncertain times ahead.
Some background on what we mean with Leaderful Organising
Leaderful organising sits within a broad theory of change that sees the building of collective power and agency as a key driver of social transformation towards greater social justice and ecological integrity. Organising is the activity of building that collective power and agency.
It aims to address the challenges involved in bringing together the best aspects of leadership with the best aspects of more horizontal ways of organising. It includes both a critique of traditional leadership and power, as well as a critique of leaderlessness and the limitations of merely horizontal forms of organising. The practices of leaderfulness draw on renewed and expanded notions of leadership, such as the idea of “group-centred leadership” articulated by Ella Baker, who was critical of a leadership style which tends to centralise power, decision making and responsibility for meaningful action in a single leader. She claimed that “Strong people don’t need [a] strong leader”.
Leaderfulness goes beyond leadership as merely the quality of individuals, to engender a culture of leaderfulness in which power is distributed appropriately and all members of an organisation or network are supported to grow into leaderfulness. In addition to supporting the acquisition of leadership qualities by individuals, a leaderful culture requires structures and systems that enable the distribution of power and influence – and nurture leaderfulness in us all. These structures and systems are rooted in the values of solidarity or what the systems scientist Donella Meadows calls ‘going for the good of the whole’.
Team to be confirmed.
creating empowering and inclusive spaces for organising
methods and tools for working well with conflict in our groups
skills and practices for effective team and group work
1. A thorny-evergreen flowering shrub, with a high capacity for regeneration and resilience. Its seedpods open in contact with fire and it reshoots from charred stumps. A successionary plant that grows well under challenging conditions. It improves soil fertility through nitrogen fixing, preparing the way for renewed biodiversity.
2. A traditional choice for igniting fires. Burns hot and bright.
3. A networked project adding nutrition and fertility to European social movements through training and capacity building. It kindles the realisation of social justice, ecological intelligence, and cognitive vitality.