The 7 Core Practices of Jewish Adaptive Leadership

Bill Robinson, PhD

From the pandemic to parenting in a time of change, from increasing anti-semitism to enduring racial inequity, from spiritual malaise to climate collapse, the challenges before us are increasingly complex with no easy answers.  Whether you’re a professional or volunteer, Na’aleh will help you learn the 7 core practices you need to address your challenges collaboratively, creatively, and courageously. 

In the past, you may have relied upon true and tried approaches to overcome the challenges before you – whether personal or organizational.  But, today, the challenges and opportunities we face require that we cultivate new mindsets, learn innovative skills, and engage a greater diversity of people and perspectives. 

Grounding our approach to leadership are 3 fundamental principles. We Believe…

  • Anyone can lead from any seat at the table.  Leadership is an activity, not a role.  It involves mobilizing people to achieve a common objective.  Thus, we don’t work with just formal leaders; we work with anyone who seeks to develop their leadership capacity in service to our community.
  • Anyone can learn to lead better.  We all have the divine capacity for leadership.  Our programs will help professionals and volunteers to develop their capacity to lead more effectively and wisely. 
  • Leadership is a risky and collaborative endeavor done amidst complexity and uncertainty.  We gather professionals and volunteers together from organizations across the community to offer mutual support, to learn from each other’s efforts, and to creatively work together.

We then sought to discover the 7 most important leadership practices that, if you master and apply, will help you become the most impactful and inspiring leader you can be.  The professional and volunteer leadership at Na’aleh drew from their own experiences, the field of leadership development, and our Jewish tradition.  Integrating these together, we offer you Jewish Adaptive Leadership. 

  • Cultivate Your Unique Strengths (Mussar)

Leadership begins with you.  It involves marshalling your character strengths – such as compassion, courage, curiosity, gratitude, humility, integrity, and wisdom – in service of our community.  Like all disciplines (such as yoga, sports, and art), you can develop these character strengths through practice and reflection.  In Judaism, this personal work is called mussar and our character strengths are middot.

  • Nurture Your Relationships (Chavruta)

Leadership is a relational activity.  It involves deepening and relying upon those relationships we have with other professionals and volunteers that promote mutual support, shared discovery, and constructive reflection.  It includes the ability to have difficult conversations.  The Jewish practice of dialogue (chavruta) offers a powerful way to learn this art of relationship-building.

  • Awaken to the Web of Connections (Hit’orerut)

Leadership involves seeing the whole.  It requires that you become aware of the complex and evolving systems in which you live and work, and the ways in which these connections and cultures influence how you act in the world.  This may include network analysis, systems-thinking, and landscape mapping.  The Jewish practices of gratitude can attune yourself to the whole of which you are a part.

  • Open Yourself to Sacred Purpose (K’dushah)

Leadership demands deep and clear purpose.  It involves knowing why you want to lead and building common purpose among those with whom you co-lead.  In our Jewish tradition, leadership is grounded in our People’s purpose to heal the world.  It asks you to open yourself up (through mindfulness practices) and ally yourself to those opportunities for healing that are emergent in the world. 

  • Build Enduring Partnerships (Brit)

Leadership is a collaborative endeavor grounded in difference.  Successful collaborations bring together people with different purposes, perspectives, and passions.  Thus, forming and fulfilling collaborative partnerships is challenging.  We need to learn ways of gathering that create brave spaces for engaging in open dialogue and coming to shared commitments.  In Judaism, we call this forming a brit (or covenant).

  • Design Creative Solutions (Yotzer)

Leadership is a creative activity.  The foundation of creativity is the ability to see the world differently.  It involves learning a discipline, such as design thinking, that demands patience, practice, and persistence.  Leading creatively requires a belief that everyone has something vital to contribute.  In our Jewish texts, we recall the building of the Tabernacle, in which every person was asked to bring their unique gifts.

  • Lead with Your Whole Self (Manhigut)

Leadership involves the whole self.  It requires that you show up with authenticity (alignment of mind, heart, body, and soul) and integrity (consistency across situations).  In our Jewish tradition, leadership is not separate from who you are. You lead through the example of your character – from how you treat others with compassion to how you inspire others through your courage.

While we steep our leadership learning in Jewish ideas and practices, our programs are open to everyone – regardless of religion, race, or role – who seek to co-lead our community forward. You have the potential to make a difference – as a professional or volunteer, for our community and in the wider world.  Let Na’aleh unleash your leadership potential.

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