Network Leadership

The Center for Creative Leadership had been collaborating with the University of Cincinnati, to hold forums on leadership networks and network leadership. These seem like really neat jams on the power of learning systems. 

You can read about some of their findings in their January newsletter, Leading Effectively E-Newsletter. In a short piece on network building: Networks and Leadership: Are you Connected? They invite leaders to develop a "network perspective".  This is an invitation I share widely. 

In the article, they concisely present leadership as "a shared process the engages and connects" with many benefits. They are presented as the following:
  • An increase in the collective capacity for leadership.
  • The enabling of others to step up, adjust and make decisions about the future of a project, team, organization or community.
  • The transformation of the leadership culture from reliance on command-and-control hierarchies to adaptation within agile, interdependent networks. (CLL E-Newsletter, January 2015 Issue),

It's a new article but not a new set of leadership ideas. The network perspective is essential for solving the problems we face. It is a very important perspective for leaders to have. I first began to explore it when Meg Wheatley came out with The New Science of Leadership in 1992. I could not put the book it down, and it set me on my path to coaching and consulting leaders and organizations, with a whole systems framework. Wheatley's deeply scientific understanding of the power of intention, and engagement redefined leadership and lead to very dynamic work around the World. Wheatley founded the Berkana InstituteWhich I followed for years, during graduate school and after, whose motto is "whatever the problem, community is the answer." 

Over the years I have sought collaborators and partners to bring about this new leadership science based on biology, chaos theory and quantum physics. It lead me to an interest in permaculture and the study of ecological design, this blog, and my now practice with the Resilience Hub in Portland Maine. At the Hub we call this process work "social permaculture" and teach people to apply it in land systems, food systems and New Economy projects. 

Learning to lead with a network perspective, is known in investment and policy circles as social innovation and impact investing. We just call it social permaculture because permaculture is as a whole systems design process, really does precede, and pre-seed, these ideas into learners minds. 

Once you've read it, the article above consider that leaders who make the shift from hero to host, are agents of change in systems they have no direct impact on, rather the collective leadership of engaged and committed people make the impact together on the systems they want to change. The host then need only be a designer of conversations that engage people support collaborations. 

We use the following Connectivity and Collaboration model at The Resilience Hub: 1) connection, 2) alignment and then 3) action. 

The pattern both repeats serially as gatherings are assembled, and builds overtime as a strategic pathway forward. Hosts make time, hold space, invite. Over time, as the system learns together, trust grows, relationships grow and those interconnections raise the collective capacity to function well, to be co-designers in the of systems that work together. 
A network learns and acts. A leader hosts.