Leading Change Network’s Approach:
Our approach grows out of an understanding of leadership not as a “position” but rather as a “practice”: accepting responsibility to enable others to achieve purpose under conditions of uncertainty. It consists of the 5 core leadership practices of relationship building, story telling, strategizing, structure, and action. A focus on change means we create urgency using a mechanism of change: the campaign. Our pedagogy is, in turn, is based on teaching the “whole game”, combining explanation, modeling, practice, and reflection in an ongoing learning cycle.
At our core, we offer an alternative approach to hierarchical and market approaches, inspired by community organizing and based on movement building. And unlike most leadership programs, we focus on active citizenship through voluntary associations, faith based organizations, and social movements.
By formalizing what we are already doing, the LCN can uniquely combine teaching, research and practice among a growing network of teachers, researchers, and practitioners committed to the continual improvement in their respective fields. As teachers, we use methods of reflective practice to equip students of leadership to teach others to lead. As researchers, we combine academic disciplines to focus on learning how to improve practice. And as practitioners, we collaborate with organizations and individuals in the US and around the world who share our commitments. To advance our goals, we work in widely diverse contexts: neighborhoods, work places, faith communities, civic associations, colleges, and electoral advocacy campaigns.
Harvard’s Kennedy School is very fertile ground in which to grow this project. It offers a venue in which we can develop a practice-based curriculum in organizing, public narrative and moral leadership. Our students, most of whom have a public service calling, are at moments of choice and transition. Our courses offer them an opportunity to clarify values, gain skills, and explore organizing as public leadership. Students and former students join us as teaching and research fellows, learn to coach workshops, and often assume leadership roles in our network of teachers, researches and practitioners.
We have a sound basic approach, a core network of unusually talented and committed people, and a uniquely wide range of strategic opportunities (see appendix). Now we need the resources to grow the network, deepen the learning, and bring greater strategic focus to developing our teaching, practice, and research on the scale that our times demand.
Our real “value added” is in creating a unique learning venue where the LCN can facilitate learning not only across disciplines, but also across cultural, organizational, and political contexts in ways that give us unique purchase on core leadership practices.