An invitation to ‘Gather’…in a time of conflict and uncertainty

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I’m committed to helping people exercise leadership over a lifetime — not just in their current project, job, or even their current career.

Like me, you might have stepped into the world of leadership development accidentally. Perhaps, you became intrigued after reading a leadership book or after an unexpectedly meaningful leadership workshop. Or maybe, you had a great boss or mentor who opened the door of inquiry into your own leadership potential…or a bad boss who taught you everything *not* to do to develop others.

My own leadership aha happened back in 2003. I came across a community of leadership and system change practitioners at a Rockefeller-affiliate nonprofit where I worked who danced on the thin line between mainstream change theory and cutting-edge, innovative application in some of the world’s harshest places.

The experience of working on deep change touched me. First, it revealed a career path that my heart had longed for — and knew existed — that I couldn’t find in even the best universities and executive education programs. It also left me feeling alone. Having seen what I considered then (and even now) to be the best of the best in the field of leadership and change, I felt disillusioned that such powerful learning opportunities were only available to people who already had access to the halls of power and financial resources. What about the rest of us in the 99.999%? It was then that I planted the seed somewhere deep in my soul to ‘democratize leadership’.

With that in mind, I’m excited to roll out a new community and course experience called Gather. It’s an “intentional, worldwide gathering to democratize leadership through deep learning and unlearning”.

Gather emerged from an adaptive experiment conceived by Molly Alexander, Trevor Rees and me as the reality of the pandemic set in early on. We launched a biweekly conversation series called Leading Through Uncertainty (which you’re welcome to join). About a hundred people joined the early calls. We now have about twenty regular participants, with new participants and many of the original ones joining as time permits, or when they need a boost of community. These gatherings impressed upon me the vitality and democratizing power of the people I’ve come across through my travels, workshops and work. Gather is the place for us all to come together.

In the beginning, Gather will consist mainly of courses and discussions on topics related to my work and writing about leadership and change. I’m also planning to offer live calls and things like that. Mostly I’ll be a host and let it evolve. The cost of membership is “free plus gift” — full access and welcome is cheerfully offered whether or not you choose to contribute financially. I’m working on an essay to talk about ACA’s principle of gift pricing, which I believe may be more important in terms of the impact of our work than the leadership framework itself.

The last thing I want to say for now has to do with the appalling state of communication happening in many of our countries — the incivility, the polarization — as well as experiences of what reverent, respectful communication can look like. The United States in particular seems headed toward intensifying civil strife. I’d like to offer a sanctuary from the strife, a place where people stay grounded in reverence even when engaging divisive issues. A place where we help each other remember truths more fundamental than what divides us. Also, a place where we can practice the skills and habits of democracy — what Parker Palmer calls the heart of democracy.

If you are especially resonant with this idea, and have skill (or aspiration) in holding conflict in creative ways, contact me and I’ll send you an application to join the moderator team.

Through the courses, discussions and community we share in this space, my hope is that we can help each other leverage many leadership moments and, ultimately, adapt our institutions and ourselves to create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.



Author, Your Leadership Moment (October 2020)

Democratizing Leadership in an Age of Authoritarianism #adaptiveleadership

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