Network Leadership Values | Our 7 Principles to Follow
As more and more change agents build, manage and evaluate networks to reach their goals, we’ve worked to provide tools training to help the community advance their work. Over time, we took time to think about the moral and ethical dimensions of network leadership to consider what the term really means. The result is our network leadership values, a foundation and framework for those in the network way of working to guide their thinking and action in the world of partnership building. Here’s our seven values.
Our 7 Network Leadership Values
1) Diversity & Inclusiveness
Network leadership is something everyone needs. This is not a model only for backbone/leadership organizations, but is designed to help build network leadership skills of anyone interacting with others. This includes managers, partners, funders, advocates, community organizers, residents, clients, and many other types of people/organizations.
2) Community & Cultural Sensitivity
Each community is different and each culture has varying ways of communicating and interacting. There is no one best approach to Network Leadership. Network Leadership builds skills and capacity in order to empower network leaders/members to adapt them to their context, culture, and community.
3) Relationship Focused
At the heart of Network Leadership is the concepts of interaction, relationships, systems building, and partnerships. Almost everyone is being asked to work across sectors in partnership with others in networks (referred to by many different names such as coalitions, partnerships, collaboratives, and collective impacts) in turn bridging across boundaries and interacting with both the usual and unusual suspects. Network Leadership focuses on ways that people, communities, and organizations interact and how relationships among and within relationships affect one another and their related outcomes.
4) Skills Based
Network leadership is focused on skills, not a prescribed list of “must do’s,” including a customized set of skills to successfully engage partners in collaborative work. Examples include facilitation, evidence-based decision making, communication and conflict-resolution.
Network leaders can manage and nurture relationships, but they need data and evidence to do it. Network leadership demonstrates how to build an evidence base by collecting and using many different kinds of data to make decisions. This is the key to building a strong network strategy, critical for network leadership.
With data and experience, Network Leaders practice reflection in collaboration with partners, stakeholders, and communities to determine action steps and strategies.
Network leaders use reflection to adapt their leadership practice. Many types of data are used to inform thinking and decision-making.
Remember our Network Leadership Values.
Network leadership isn’t easy. Building cross-sector collaboration and networks is promising, but it requires leaders with the mix of skill and understanding required to effectively manage it all. Keep our seven network leadership values in mind as you set forth on your work. To continue developing your network leadership skillset, visit our Learning Lab for more opportunities for growth and training.
About the Author: Alex Derr, M.P.A.
Director of Marketing & Communications
Alex joined VNL in 2017, originally supporting our events. He now helps manages our communications and marketing strategy and content development work. Alex creates blogs, infographics, reports, and other content while managing our web and social media presence. He also runs our email marketing campaigns, tracks analytics, and conducts market research to drive our strategy. He supports our entire team with copywriting, graphic design and research, and helps with events, webinars, demos, and other online learning. When he isn’t at work Alex spends his time climbing 14ers (24 done, 34 to go!) and blogging on his own website, The Next Summit Blog.
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