Taking a Look at Power Dynamics in our Teams (and Beyond) at Commonbound
by Rebecca Fisher McGinty | Jul 31, 2018
Our Communications Wizard, Rebecca, presented at the Commonbound gathering this June. With reflection, we’ve found that our space in the New Economy is doing the work of holding space for when those power dynamics that we are fighting against creep up in our work. There’s certainly a lot to unlearn from the extractive economy and culture in which we’ve been immersed. Part of our role is to support and strengthen teams in their ability to share power and collaborate so that they can do their work more effectively. Read on to learn more about her reflections from Commonbound.
In June, I attended and had the honor of presenting a workshop on decision-making at the New Economy Coalition
‘s (NEC) Commonbound
gathering in St Louis, Missouri. Since I started working with Round Sky, I have heard a lot of good things about Commonbound (they’re all true!) and about NEC’s work. Their vision deeply resonated with what we, at Round Sky
, are working toward and deeply believe.
New Economy Coalition's Vision
“We must imagine and create a future where capital (wealth and the means of creating it) is a tool of the people, not the other way around. What we need is a new system—a new economy—that meets human needs, enhances the quality of life, and allows us to live in balance with nature. Far from a dream, this new economy is bursting forth through the cracks of the current system as people experiment with new forms of business, governance, and culture that give life to the claim that another world is possible.”
Soon after joining Round Sky, I submitted an application in 2017 to be an organizational member of the New Economy Coalition and the rest is history!
By Commonbound 2018, Round Sky had a been a member for almost a year, and we were still getting acquainted with the network and the virtual spaces offered by NEC when I entered the physical space of the annual member meeting with the question: Where does Round Sky fit in the New Economy Coalition?
I jumped into the meeting directly from my 6am flight leaving a surprisingly busy New Orleans airport and was greeted by several energized faces and interactive activities for getting to know each other, understanding our collective history, and deepening our vision of the New Economy together. The organizing crew created and nurtured a space that was intentional and thoughtful to center people from many different and often underrepresented backgrounds and life experiences, which continued throughout the weekend. That first meeting left me with more questions than answers as to where we fit into NEC.
Throughout the weekend, I connected with a variety of people around the need for good processes to support shared power in our work and organizational spaces. In a “break”, I had a great conversation with another attendee about looking at power dynamics in our workspace and beyond and the exhaustion of harmful power dynamics on our hearts and bodies. We discussed a tension that came up throughout the weekend– how to address the real world harm and oppression happening while building up and nurturing the new economy at the same time.
With another person, I discussed the different views on cultural change versus (and?) structural change to enable shifts in harmful dynamics. In reality, each team is different and can benefit from an approach that includes attention to both culture and structure.
Deepening into practices for shifting power, I co-presented a workshop at Commonbound titled: Walk the Talk of Equality: Exploring Inclusive Decision Making.
During my presentation, I introduced the Power Matrix tool to the nearly 50 attendees to map out and analyze power dynamics in their teams emphasizing that generative power isn’t necessarily all collective and harmful power doesn’t only show up in autonomous power.
One part of the Power Matrix isn’t more ideal than the other side. It’s really about finding the balance for your team and being able to shift dynamics when it’s not working for the team anymore. After the workshop, I dove into some of the specifics into an attendee’s experience with power in their organization and offered some advice for what they could bring back to their team for more generative dynamics. After diving into that specific experience and with a few others, I felt more energized and grounded in what part we play in the New Economy Coalition.
Many (not all) of the New Economy Coalition organizations are working on and advocating for the deeply important work of political campaigns or/and policy and organizing for anti-oppression work. Round Sky is doing the work of holding space for when those power dynamics that we are fighting against creep up in our work.
There’s certainly a lot to unlearn from the extractive economy and culture in which we’ve been immersed. Part of our role is to support and strengthen teams in their ability to share power and collaborate so that they can do their work more effectively. There are multiple needs in the new economy and being able to share power rather than replicate harmful power dynamics unconsciously inside our organizations is crucial.
The theme of Commonbound this year was “Owning Our Power”. The felt power of our collective efforts across the states and beyond continues to remain on my heart as we persevere. And the importance of enabling our teams to live into the values of our new economy, through new forms of governance and power-sharing rather than power-hoarding, seems even more relevant and salient to me.
Power is one of the things we are often reflecting on, teaching, and supporting our clients in understanding the dynamics in their team. If you’re interested in learning more about how to put these tools to use in your team and leadership style, come to our next free informational call on the Collaborative Leadership Certification Program to learn more!