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What does a social learning leader do?

A lot of our work in the last few years has been focused on developing the capability of various types of social learning leaders, including community and network leaders, systems conveners, sponsors, and enablers at various levels of scale.

A strand of our current writing is to articulate the central disciplines of social learning leadership. A social learning leader is someone who is paying attention to these disciplines.

A discipline is not a recipe, a process, or a best practice. We are not sure these exist for this kind of work. Rather a discipline is a way to bring rigor to an art. It includes the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself if you’re responsible for a social learning space, the perspectives you can take, the methods and tools you can apply, the pitfalls you should avoid, and the ways you can assess the quality of your work.

The figure lists the current disciplines we have identify and are working on. The list is still somewhat in flux, but it will give you a good idea of what we are trying to do.

Our aim is to publish these disciplines as a handbook that will be useful to people who take social learning leadership in their contexts.

And here is the text on the visual, if you can’t see it:


  • Relevance: what is our learning partnership about?
  • Accountability: how is accountability negotiated?
  • Value creation: what difference are we making for whom?


  • Voices: who needs to be involved?
  • Power: how can learning trump power?
  • Leadership: how to foster distributed leadership?


  • Engagement: how to work together on issues of practice?
  • Imagination: what images inform and orient learning?
  • Alignment: how to achieve effectiveness at scale?


  • Continuity: how to enable ongoing learning loops?
  • Boundaries: how to make boundaries into learning assets?
  • Scale: how to maintain a multi-scale perspective?