Throwing Leadership: A Spin on Leaders’ Circle

“When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things.”
Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Blog post by Kim Leveridge, Director of Learning and Professional Development

While enjoying a few days in Santa Fe, I signed up for a pottery class to learn a bit about the throwing wheel. My trip was motivated by a need to turn off the day-to-day stress of life and work, and this seemed like a reasonable exercise to help that process. I walked in to a beautiful gallery and was led to a large warehouse-style room full of artists intently creating. This was both exciting and intimidating, but my instructor Kelse immediately put me to work.

A beginner to wheel throwing spends a lot of time just trying to get the clay to stop going wonky. Like a washing machine off balance, when you put the slightest bit too much pressure to one area of the clay wedge, it will start to take you with it on a clay ride. But when you support your arms and hands and really center yourself and your reactions, the clay will respond with a marvelous creation.

Emerging nonprofit leaders are on a similar learning track. The early experiences of failure and “wonkiness” help us to understand where to put pressure, how to manage our actions, and how to adjust even the slightest so that our intentions lead to desired outcomes.

The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofit’s Leaders’ Circle is an advisory group that provides a confidential forum to support and develop nonprofit leaders. Each session is specifically designed to address the biggest challenges faced by leaders as they fundraise in challenging times, build leadership capacity, try to master mission focus and board governance, and juggle the demands of talent management.

Through the mutual support, shared stories, collective problem solving and monthly expert speaker contributions, Leaders’ Circle participants work together to learn from their experiences in a peer circle that results in a network of colleagues who have all grown as leaders.

The “wheel” of the Leaders’ Circle sets the stage for participants to become more centered and well-equipped leaders.

Even as leaders continue to evolve and perfect their place in the sector, they have the opportunity to use their own expertise and skill to help others become more skilled and balanced in their approach. Much like the potter at the wheel, the leader who is best able to center and adjust with the pressure and demands of the work has the greatest opportunity to succeed through even the most off-center and wonky workplaces.

Join us, let’s throw some leadership together.


For more information on the Leaders’ Circle program, visit the Leaders’ Circle page.

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Marnie Taylor