Skills and understanding for building effective collective power
We are living through a period of historical disruption. The stalled engine of neoliberal growth, an increasing sense of distributive injustice, bankrupted political leadership, and the “fierce urgency of [the ecological] now”, are the cracks in a failing system. They are also the spaces that have opened up in which our social movements can contest our future. This training explores key skills and organisational structures needed to rise to this challenge.
What is 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. It seeks to nurture the qualities of responsibility, initiative and accountability in individuals, while honouring the values of solidarity, inclusion, mutual empowerment and equity.
The practices of leaderfulness draw on renewed and expanded notions of leadership, such as the idea of “group-centered leadership” articulated by Ella Baker, who was critical of a leadership style which tends to centralize 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’.
“Go to the people, learn from them. Live with them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. The best of leaders when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people will all say we have done it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu
We will explore ideas and practices related to:
The aims of the training are:
So, the workshop will help participants to:
“Leadership is accepting responsibility for enabling others to achieve purpose in the face of uncertainty.” (Marshall Ganz)
Who is it aimed at?
Anyone involved in socially engaged action addressing ecological, political and social justice issues. We embrace a broad definition of activism, 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.
ECON is a hub for the community organizing movement and supports organizers to build an effective counterbalance to the rise of right-wing extremism, racism, and nationalism in Europe. ECON serves as a hub for the community organizing movement across Europe with a focus on developing the craft of organizing through training and mentorship, technical assistance, and by creating a space for organizers from different countries to collectively develop their strategic practice.
LABO vzw is a non-profit educational organisation that strives as a movement towards a strong civil society that collectively work to create social change and a commitment to social justice. LABO vzw believes in the power of communities to facilitate radical transformation of the current model of society. A crucial condition is the sustainability and democratization of community associations that have come under pressure. LABO vzw advocates for the extension of a creative community of discerning global citizens who transform our society. The acronym LABO literally stands for “Learning, Acting, Movement and Organizing.”
Zelena Akcija (Green Action) a non-governmental, non-partisan, non-profit and voluntary association of citizens for environmental protection founded in Zagreb in 1990. Zelena Akcija is actively involved in environmental issues at the local, national and global levels, and encourages change through projects, campaigns and non-violent direct actions. Zelena Akcija is a member of the largest network of environmental associations in the world – Friends of the Earth and a partner of the World Nature Organization (WWF) in Croatia .
G has been involved in social movement organising and education since the late 1980’s. He is a highly regarded trainer and has designed numerous training programmes covering areas such as psychosocial resilience in activism, the ecology of social movements, and leaderful organising. As a founding member of the Ulex Project, he is known for highly innovative work blending pedagogical methodologies. This holistic approach to activist learning has inspired numerous training initiatives across Europe. He currently steers the strategic development of the Ulex Project and its social movement capacity building programme.
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.