Takeaways from Leadership Development, Part 1

Takeaways from Leadership Development, Part 1

Leadership Development trainings are not what someone might expect – they’re not about public speaking, or personality, or personal success. Rather, these trainings could be renamed “Reflection on Public Life” according to SWOP’s executive director Jeff Bartow, who led the English-speaking training in November 2019.

Throughout the first session of Leadership Development with Bartow in November, a group of staff and community members learned together about power, organizing, anger, community, change, and transforming overwhelming problems into tangible and actionable issues. A small group of seven participants allowed each person to share their experiences and ideas throughout.

Bartow described some of the history of southwest Chicago and SWOP. Check out Martha Irvine’s article for one account of these histories. Check out SWOP’s “History”  page for another.

Some of the key ideas included in the leadership training on public life: 

  • There is power in collective voice.
  • SWOP approaches organizing through institutions, because institutions often have more power (meaning: an ability to act) than individuals. 
  • A guiding question is: “Where is the potential power in this neighborhood?”
  • Organizing is related to activism, but different; organizing is about building relationships that surpass any one issue.
  • Organizing is always about how to build relationships and with whom. This is face-to-face work.
  • Organizing requires reflection and imagination on “the world as it is,” and on “the world as it should/could be.” 
  • Leaders 1) have integrated their anger, 2) are clear about their interests, 3) imagine, and 4) use humor to add and diffuse tension.
  • Organizing is slow work and at the same time requires urgency.

If you want to explore these ideas and more, join us. SWOP holds Leadership Development trainings each year in Spanish and English. If you’re interested in joining a training, reach out to a SWOP organizer. 


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