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Social change leadership for collective impact: Lessons from the U.S. Sonia M. Ospina NYU/Wagner Research Center for Leadership in Action Wise Practices.

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Presentation on theme: "Social change leadership for collective impact: Lessons from the U.S. Sonia M. Ospina NYU/Wagner Research Center for Leadership in Action Wise Practices."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social change leadership for collective impact: Lessons from the U.S. Sonia M. Ospina NYU/Wagner Research Center for Leadership in Action Wise Practices in Indigenous Community Development Symposium THE BANFF CENTRE, Alberta, Canada 2012 0

2 Collective impact… collective achievements... 1

3 A collaborative research with 92 community-based organizations and 164 social change leaders

4 Indigenous organizations in the LCW program (about 7%) of ) 3

5 Structure of my remarks 1.What we did: a collaborative research with leaders in social change organizations 2.What we found: leadership as collective achievement 3.What we learned: Implications for theory and practice 4

6 Leadership for a Changing World: 92 SCOs, 164 leaders The LCW program (2001-2007) Research & Documentation (2000-2009)

7 Community Voices Heard, CVH, New York City CVH is an organization of low-income people, predominantly women with experience on welfare, working to build power in New York City and State to improve the lives of our families and communities.

8 Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European, and Latino Immigrants (CAAAELI), Chicago CAAAELI aims to strengthen diverse voices of inter-generational immigrant and refugee communities by building alliances through a transformative process to develop grassroots power that impacts public policy

9 People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources, PODER 8 We seek to empower our communities through education, advocacy and action. Our aim is to increase the participation of communities of color in corporate and government decision making related to toxic pollution, economic development and their impact on our neighborhoods.

10 LCW organizations are social change organizations A nonprofit or public service organization Addresses root causes not symptoms of problems Increases the power of marginalized groups, communities or interests a grassroots response to systemic social problems. (Chetkovich & Kunreuther, 2006: 14) 9

11 How are SCOs distinct from other nonprofits? Work in environments of uncertainty and scarcity Work with constituency group, not on their behalf Promote participant self-determination and autonomy Engage participants in decision-making and governance Transform constituents into stakeholders Aim to transform unjust power relations that affect constituents 10

12 An ambitious research agenda 11 Ethnographic Inquiry: Looking at leadership from the inside Continuity Context In-depth focus/thick descriptions In what ways do communities trying to make social change engage in the work of leadership? In what ways can academics and practitioners co- produce leadership research and knowledge that is valid and useful to both? Co-Operative Inquiry: Co-researchers (in an inquiry group) generate meaning/knowledge of leadership in action. Narrative Inquiry: The LCW participants use their own voices to reflect about leadership and construct meaning. Ethnographies Horizontal Analysis Inquiry Reports Research Stream Leadership Stories Products Up to 3 LCW participants communities LCW participants and representatives of their communities Up to 2 groups of 6-8 LCW participants each Participants (co-researchers) LCW participants make meaning in conversation with core research team members Core research team members make meaning in conversation with members of a community Collective Integration Selected LCW participants make meaning from practice

13 Structure of my remarks 1.What we did: a collaborative research with leaders in social change organizations 2.What we found: leadership as collective achievement 3.What we learned: Implications for theory and practice 12

14 … Key findings The work of leadership is about awakening the community to its own strength: When community members see and feel abundance in the midst of scarcity they are ready to mobilize their collective energy 13

15 … Key findings: From scarcity to abundance Collective appreciative intelligence: the ability to see the inherent generative potential in a given situation and act purposively to transform potential into outcomes (Thatchenkery & Metzker, 2006) Appreciative leadership: the relational capacity to mobilize creative potential and turn it into positive power… (Whitney, Trosten-Bloom & Rader, 2010) 14

16 A lived problem (systemic exclusion) Vision of wellbeing and social justice Basic assumptions: theory of change/ knowledge /human beings/power Social change values: equality; solidarity; inclusion; democracy: transparency LEADERSHIP PRACTICES -Technologies of Management -Core organizational tasks Intermediate outcomes: Collective Capacity: -Individual -Organiza - Interorg. Strategic work to construct and leverage power Long-term Outcomes: Changing -Mental models - Policies -Structures -Relationships A framework of social change leadership in SCOs W o r l d v i e w: g r o u n d e d h u m a n i s m Leadership drivers Change

17 Variations in theories of social change 1 Transformation 2 Inclusion Strategies to advance Systemic Social Change 3 Preservation 16

18 LCW Indigenous Awardees advanced change through the preservation strategy 17

19 In what ways do communities trying to make social change engage in the work of leadership? 18

20 The work of leadership Developing many leadership practices that help the organization Reframe discourse Bridge difference Unleash human energies 19

21 Reframing discourse challenging existing templates and mental models that contribute to make up or reinforce the problems that the organizations are addressing

22 Gwichin Tribes Steering Committee 21 The caribou is not just what we eat, but who we are. It is in our dances, stories, songs and the whole way we see the world. Caribou is how we get from one year to the other. Sarah James

23 People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources, PODER …redefining environmental issues as social and economic justice issues, and collectively setting our own agenda to address these concerns as basic human rights. 22

24 Prompting Cognitive shifts (Foldy, Goldman & Ospina, 2008) About the issue How an audience views the problem and/or the solution About the constituency (those experiencing the problem) How the constituency sees itself How one part of the constituency sees another How an outside audience sees the constituency

25 Bridging difference …connecting different worlds and worldviews in ways that make alliance building and collaboration possible 24 Columbia River Inter-tribal Commission

26 The Columbia River Inter-tribal Fish Commission 25 to protect reserved treaty rights through the exercise of the inherent sovereign powers of the tribes The CRIFC 's mission is to ensure a unified voice in the overall management of the fishery resources, and as managers,

27 Underlying assumptions of cross-boundary work Recognizing the strategic value of difference Difference: not a problem but a key resource; (and managing the paradox of unity/diversity) Balancing (real & pervasive) power inequities commitment to try to even the odds (in favor of the vulnerable) Leveraging the power of networks Networks=strategic tools AND manifestations of community (and shapers of identity) 26

28 Unleashing human energies …creating the conditions to reclaim the right to selfhood and full humanity …and to recognize ones power and expertise to direct ones life …learning and unlearning … 27

29 How? Creating transformative learning spaces where participants can build their strengths Harness lived experience (and develop peoples voices) Draw strength from culture and identity Distill knowledge and practice skills 28

30 29

31 Leveraging the power of all practices together: PODER goes to Court …there was a time that we were all sisters and brothers, the night sky our ceiling, the earth our mother, the sun our father, our parents were leaders and justice our guide… 30

32 Leveraging power Reframing discourse + Bridging difference + Unleashing human energies = Preparedness, readiness, willingness to engage in action to bring the future into the present Leadership practices leadership capital 31

33 Structure of my remarks 1.What we did: a collaborative research with leaders in social change organizations 2.What we found: leadership as collective achievement 3.What we learned: Implications for theory and practice 32

34 Distinct sets of competencies Mission: Social Change Technologies of Management Leadership practices: reframing Bridging unleashing Critical tasks of social change organizations 33

35 Implications for leadership theory Few studies of SCO in the mainstream literature Missing relevant voices (and stories) people of color, low-income communities, indigenous groups… We can learn a lot about the human condition from their experience! New interest on relational forms of leadership and the collective dimensions of leadership Leaders in SCOs have been doing it for years! We can learn a lot about leadership from their experience!

36 Closing thoughts From Peter Senge: Ultimately, leadership is about how we shape futures that we truly desire, as opposed to try as best we can to cope with circumstances we believe are beyond our control. Look to the periphery, to people and places where commitment to the status quo is low and where hearts and minds are most open to the new. 35

37 Donald Sampsons words to young people … you are the ones who will lead us into the future. Open your hearts and your minds. Touch the earth, the mother of all of us. Begin to feel the beauty in the rhythm from a spiritual stance. Try to understand the land, the plants, the wildlife, not only from a scientific standpoint, but as your relatives, your brother and sister. 36 I have hope for a new Native American relationship with this land and with our natural resources, a hope that lies deep in the heart of our children and which will lie in the hearts of all of our future generations.

38 Thank you! Want to learn more? Research Center for Leadership in Action, NYU/Wagner www.wagner.nyu.edu/leadership 37


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