Justice Education

Good Work
March 2024

Leadership for Flourishing

Wes Siscoe

Since 2020, the Leadership for Flourishing network has hosted an online community of practice to help members connect leadership practices to ecosystem-wide flourishing. With participants from institutions such as Oxford, Harvard, and West Point, there are a wide variety of experiences and perspectives represented as members work to grow and support each other.

“We just have this group of phenomenal people – some who are thinking about virtue philosophically, and others who are taking a more scientific approach,” said Katy Granville-Chapman, who founded Leadership for Flourishing along with Emmie Bidston. “We hope that, by bringing people together who are interested in virtues, character, and flourishing, we will be able to both help people lead better, but also create a movement around flourishing as a guiding leadership principle.”

Granville-Chapman has been thinking about and working to facilitate effective leadership for a long time. As co-founder of Global Social Leaders, an organization that has now supported over 3,500 projects in 105 countries, she has seen many examples of good and bad leadership and the ways that effective leadership can make or break a team. 

But far from answering all of her questions, these experiences inspired her to further research how leaders can help their teams flourish, ultimately inspiring her to pursue a PhD in leadership at Oxford. “I was interested in not just how leaders could get the job done,” said Granville-Chapman, “but I also wanted to know how they could genuinely contribute to the flourishing of those they were leading, which I thought was the mark of a really excellent leader.”

That’s when she decided to team up with Emmie Bidston, the long time Director of the Wellington College Leadership and Coaching Institute, to start Leadership for Flourishing.

The Leadership for Flourishing community of practice meets online once a month, and the primary agenda item is simply sharing what everyone is learning about leadership for flourishing. “We prioritize relationships over getting anything in particular done, so we hope that everyone feels comfortable sharing as they are,” said Granville-Chapman.

But even though their meetings don’t focus specifically on accomplishments, the network has led to many exciting collaborations. Team members have developed a list of Global Flourishing Goals, which detail how to pursue flourishing not only in leadership but also as a global policy item. And network members have been able to share these internationally, presenting at conferences put on by UNESCO, the United Nations World Logic Day, the Jubilee Centre, and the Copenhagen Leadership Centre.

Another resource promoted by the network is Bidston and Granville-Chapman’s book Leader: Know, Love, and Inspire Your People (Crown House Publishing, 2020) 

“We really wanted to take all the amazing research we were doing and share it, not just with the network but also with others who are actually on the ground leading,” said Bidston. “We were thinking of all the people who would want a resource that allowed them to put what we were learning into action.”

Leadership for Flourishing is just getting started. Currently, the network is working on a follow-up book with Oxford University Press, and a UN resolution for a globally-recognized world flourishing day. 

“It’s obviously an ambitious goal, but we have people in our network that have experience working with the UN, so that is what’s driving our interest in advocating for a global flourishing day,” said Granville-Chapman. “The ultimate hope would not just be a day focused on global flourishing, but adding flourishing goals to the future agenda of the UN.”
For those interested in getting involved with Leadership for Flourishing, the network is working on an online course on leadership for flourishing along with their upcoming summer conference on June 13-14, 2024.