From Leadership Development to Leadership Network

From Leadership Development to Leadership Network

Jun 21, 2019, 10:3 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Sterling Network NYC is a network of both emerging and established community leaders that will connect, learn, and work collaboratively to accelerate advancement in the many issue areas that impact economic mobility across New York City. While the central focus of the network is systems change, participants are also developing as the types of systems leaders who can engage effectively in the complex collaborations required for lasting social change. Systems leaders are network, organizational, coalition, or collaborative leaders who work actively to address the root causes of problems, rather than mitigate the symptoms.

This session will demonstrate why leadership networks are such powerful vehicles for sparking connections, learning, and collaborative action – between community leaders, alumni, and organizations. We will tell the story of how the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation came to launch a leadership network rather than develop a leadership development program. Then, through a series of experiential exercises, we will outline how you might be able to make these leadership networks work in your community – including how existing leadership development programs can build effective networks to engage their alumni, and how grantmakers can best support these efforts to thrive without controlling them.

The session will use case studies, discussion, and exercises to equip participants with critical skills for applying a network approach to their work. We will outline the principles, processes, and structures that enable leadership networks to succeed, and will discuss how existing leadership programs can use a network approach to achieve greater levels of impact.


1. Learn how you can flip the traditional leadership development model on its head, and instead support a diverse set of leaders – both established and emerging – to connect, learn, and work together on behalf of shared goals.
2. Learn the critical factors that make these leadership networks work, including: how to clarify the purpose of the effort, convene the right people, cultivate trust early to find common ground, coordinate existing actions to create quick wins, and set the stage for long-term collaborative success.
3. Learn how funders can best support these efforts to thrive, including: the necessary skills and capacities required of network leadership, as well as the typical lifecycle of a network as it evolves over time, keying in on the implications that each stage has for the role of the funder.