Leaderfulness allows movements to unlockpower. Building leaderful movementsmeans developing a stronger and sharedunderstanding of leadership and adoptingmovement practices that distribute powerand leadership in ways that enableeffective, accountable and agile collectiveaction.
At the end of 2020 with 3 other organizations we joined forces to tackle some hard questions on what was keeping social movements from having bigger wins in a wide range of struggles for social and ecological justice.
The main motivation of this project has been from the onset to create training materials and curricula that would support organizations and social movements in stepping up to the challenges of our current times. This meant that we had to first identify a series of competencies that enable what we now refer to as leaderful organizing, before designing a series of materials that allow groups and individuals to learn and grow these skills.
We propose a framework to build a shared understanding of leaderfulness as a strategic approach to distribute power and leadership in movements in ways that enable effective, accountable and agile collective action for social transformation. We have been working on creating new approaches to organising, that will help us build organisations and movements that go beyond the shortcomings of classical leadership models and the pitfalls of simplistic concepts of horizontality and lack of leadership. We call this the leadership organizing approach.
The resources we have developed aim to support movements that believe in the power of collective leadership, to enable activists and organizers to exercise power, respond to changing contexts and scale up their impact.
The project Leaderful Organizing was a part of ISELE – Innovating Social Entrepreneurial Leadership Education that was funded by the ERASMUS plus programme (KA2 – Cooperation for innovation and exchange of good practice KA204 – Strategic partnerships for adult education).
Often movements for social change are held back
by blockages related to the concept and practice
We began our work by exploring the field of organizing and social movement organizations active in diverse corners and sectors of Europe. Our aim was to analyse the experiences of organizers, educators and organizations in the field of leadership, leadership organisations and active citizenship to better understand the key challenges and opportunities they encounter. We identified the current needs and gaps in leadership training and wrote a research report with concepts and practices of leadership and leaderfulness which has informed the development of the other resources.
Link: Leadership and Leaderful organizing: Research on building leaderful movements in Europe
We harvested, evaluated and selected a toolkit including the most effective tools and content on Leaderful Organizing. We adapted the design of the tools and curated them in an online space in the Commons Library.
Link: Toolkit on Leaderful Organizing
We compiled a thorough and systematic competence and learning framework. This framework serves as a reference and shared conceptual framework for adult educators, to support an increase in the quality and effectiveness of adult education programmes, and to support communication about the key competences involved in empowering effective active citizenship and social entrepreneurial leadership. In addition, the framework served to ground the development of curriculum and learning modules. We expect it to support initiatives by other educational institutions and policy-makers.
Link: Competency Framework
We developed a modular curriculum covering the key competences of Leaderful Organizing previously identified. Each module includes example session plans and educational activities and it is designed to enable trainers to adapt the curriculum to a variety of settings suitable to the diverse contexts and needs of target groups. This will help trainers to meet key learning needs and to lower barriers to uptake by diverse learners. The curriculum constitutes the foundation for training programmes on leaderful organizing.
Link: Leaderful Organizing Curriculum
This handbook is a subjective exploration of something we are referring to as ‘leaderful pedagogy’. We wrote it as an accompanying tool for the curriculum we have been assembling to develop the practice of ‘leaderful organising.’ It collects stories, learnings and inspiration by trainers, for trainers. If the curriculum is the ‘what,’ this handbook can be thought of as the ‘how.’ It covers a wide range of things to think about when planning training – from different approaches to identifying the learning needs of a group and designing training sessions, to facilitation styles and some of the theoretical approaches that inform our pedagogy. We imagine the target audience for this handbook to be other experienced trainers who are interested in how to use their training practice to foster a more leaderful movement for social and environmental justice.
Link: Handbook – Towards a Leaderful Pedagogy (EN | HU | SK | PL | ES | BE | HR | CAT)
We have created an intuitive platform to bring together all the tools and incorporate innovative approaches that support flexibility in learning for citizens facing different challenges and barriers to learning. Practical tips, handouts, texts, podcasts and visuals cater to different learning styles and enhance the daily work of adult educators and community organizers, working within organizations and social movements.
Link: Blended Learning Course on Leaderful Organizing
Another world is not only possible,
she is on her way.
On a quiet day,
I can hear her breathing.
– Arundhati Roy
These materials have been an exploration of the idea of leaderful pedagogy, which is
a tool to build movements that allow more people to step into their roles as a leader, as well as a collective practice of leadership. It is meant to serve as a support for those who recognise that old patterns of leadership are just that…old. It is a tool for those who feel, as we do, that rejecting the idea of leadership altogether will not serve to build the movement we need.
As Arundhati Roy says, a new world is on the way. However, we cannot hear those words with a false sense of optimism that the world we need will happen on its own. We must step into the challenge of building it. As trainers, we must stretch our learning zones and think about how the work we do contributes to unlocking the power our movements need. We must not shy away from our role as leaders who can influence the growth and learning of the people and organisations we work with. We must dedicate ourselves to the practice of fostering leaderfulness in our learning spaces and in the movement as a whole.
Thank you for reading! We hope that these materials will strengthen your communities and support you in bringing change!