In whatever way we envisage contributing to the wellbeing of our world, for most of us it is going to mean working with others. It is going to mean collaborating. Collaboration is key to collective agency and empowerment. It’s a basis for effectiveness, a crucial means of embodying our values, and it can bring forth emergent and creative qualities that alone we could barely imagine. And collaboration is not only a root of social transformation, it also provides a vital context for individual transformation, enabling us to share and live out our deepest values.
But working in groups is not always easy. It can feel frustrating, draining and unproductive. Meetings drag, personalities clash, power conflicts arise, chaos reigns and all this gets in the way of achieving what the group or organization set out to do at the beginning.
This training will help you to learn how to collaborate, communicate and make decisions effectively. It will help you to draw out the best in yourself and others, to stay in healthy relationship, build teams based on shared values – and get things done! This course and related resources provides you with the tools and know how to make your group effective, fun, brilliant, and inspiring.
Effective collaboration requires an understanding of how groups work, it involves learning the skills for organizing and structuring our work together, it also requires deepening self-awareness, the honing of our ethical sensibility and the means to transcend our limiting habits in order to bring forth more helpful and creative capabilities. So this course integrates practical skills and approaches to group and organsational development with reflective and group practices that make the personal-interpersonal interface a truly creative place to be.
This training is for anyone working in a community or organisation, in a social change project, social enterprise or business and who wants to work creatively, dynamically and effectively with others.
Through a blend of participatory education and immersive learning you will learn how to:
- Develop shared purpose and vision
- Create a culture that reflects your shared values
- Keep your approach responsive and relevant in an ever-changing world
- Communicate more collaboratively and understand patterns that help us hold important conversations
- Think strategically to turn vision into effective pathways for action
- Work with power – transforming it, distributing it, and using it well
- Manage conflict creatively
- Use key systems concepts in the design of organisations and groups
- Learn effective decision making skills for a range of contexts, that support accountability, creativity and initiative
- Run effective and enjoyable meetings
- Harness diversity and help each other to bring our best to our teams and groups
- Apply key facilitation skills
- Understand the inner life of group dynamics and cycles
- Ensure participatory processes draw out the collective wisdom and supports individual autonomy
- Recognise the conditions that make our work together a context for individual growth and development
- Use emotional intelligence to support effective collaboration.
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 ideas of “group-centred leadership”, Transfromative Leadership and feminist notions of leadership (Ella Baker), which allows for leadership to be shared and accountable
- Leaderful movements instead of leaderless movements
- Leadership that enables groups to embody their values
- Models that avoid the failings of both classic hierarchies and the limitations of fetishized horizontalism
- The adaptation of learning about ‘agile’ organisational leadership to the context of socio-political work
- Leadership development as a practice to support groups to move beyond mobilising to organising.
The aims of leaderful organising training are:
- To support the building of collective power, agency, and leaderfulness of social movements, organisations and groups working to achieve structural transformation to challenge ecological irrationality and socio-political injustice.
- To enable learning that can develop participants’ capacity to practice leaderful organizing and build movements where leadership is mutually empowering, appropriately distributed, accountable, and agile.
- To create a space for collective reflection, analysis, and learning from participants’ experiences of social movement work across Europe.
So, these aspects of the workshop will help participants to:
- Gain an increased understanding of the practice and principles of Leaderful Organising and its value in movement building.
- Examine issues around empowerment, leadership, understanding power dynamics and collective processes.
- Learn ways of developing personal skills for holding and distributing power, holding and sharing responsibilities, and other transformative leadership qualities.
- Explore issues and techniques relevant to implementing structures that can nurture a leaderful culture in organisations and groups.
- Increase your understanding of group-work skills, including communication skills and ways of working with conflict, to transform energy depleting situations.
- Gain experience of methods of organising and community building that can express the values we are working for and increase personal and group capacity.
- Reflect deeply on your own personal history of activism, identifying patterns and tendencies, and find ways of skilfully transforming these where needed.
- Identify and drawn upon the sources of nourishment and inspiration that support your engagement and help you realise your potential as an organiser and empowered agent for social change.
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.