Participative Leadership: My Life, Art and Work

Consulting & Training


participative leadership activity materials on wooden floor green paper and written notes on circular paper

All of my work utilizes participative leadership methods, whether with small teams or large organizations, to help access more of the wisdom already present in a group, and, to help groups be smarter together. I have 20+ years applied experience in numerous settings with The Circle Way, Open Space Technology, The World Cafe and other forms nuanced to particular circumstance.

Read more on methods here.


Behind participative leadership methods are always frameworks and world views that amplify impact and purpose. Learned and practiced with colleagues over years, I count on several well-trusted orientations. “Two Loops,” “Cynefin,” “The Chaordic Path,” “Divergence & Convergence,” “Visual Harvesting,” “Chaordic Stepping Stones,” “Hobbit Tools,” “Asking Powerful Questions,” and “The Four Fold Path.” I also love creating and evolving new frameworks, both to bring to groups, and to create with them.

Read more on frameworks here.

Coaching and Guiding

tenneson woolf participative leadership activity reading many yellow and blue sticky notes on a whiteboard

My coaching is very much about creating an environment to help people and groups deeply ground the “what,” the “why,” and the “how” of their work. My coaching is a commitment to both the detail of participative leadership, design needs, and, the depth of personal awakeness and leadership inquiry. It is very much about creating spaciousness and expansion in what can so often be compressed and contracted.

Much of my coaching happens online utilizing Zoom for video connection. Sessions are typically 60 minutes for individuals and 90 minutes for teams. I utilize a process of inquiry that integrates external observation with internal relevance, and vice versa. And that explores beneath the surface of relevance for the immediate moment that is connected to the longer arc.

Contact Me to Schedule a Call

Reflection & Writing

Daily Writing

tenneson woolf in light grey shirt looking down and writing with pen on paper in front of brown fence and green pasture

It’s typically between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. when I most often wake, whether to morning sunlight or remaining darkness of night. First, when able, I journal privately to catch morning insights that have grown naturally through night sleep. Sometimes dreams. Second, even if just for five minutes, but more typically 20, mediation. My body, my mind, and my heart need to know this spaciousness, particularly in the busiest of times. I continue to learn that I can’t take people to spaciousness in their work if I don’t know it in me. Third, writing. Because that’s how I particularly find more of the inner that helps make sense of the outer. It’s practice.

I post insights on my daily blog, Human to Human. It’s journalling and learning in public, Monday through Thursday, in which I post current learnings (taking sporadic weeks off to write longer pieces or to rest). Posts speak on varied aspects of participative leadership practices, insights, and human to human depth. You can sign up to receive new posts by entering your email on the blog page. There’s also a corresponding Podcast.

Published Work

In June 2022, I published my second collection of poetry, Most Mornings. This collection offers verse to both my work and to my communal and solo living. As I describe in the Introduction, “This collection of poems comes from some of my sense-making that so often happens in the morning, nurtured by overnight sleep. These poems sample practices. They sample learnings. They sample insights and discoveries. They sample dilemmas and concerns. They range from simple and clear appreciations to more complex and murky wonderings about how to be in the world of these times. I offer these verses to invite essences to lead, as poetry often does, and to invite discovery of what can only live between the lines.

Previously (March 2020) I published A Cadence of Despair: Poems and Reflections on Heartbreak, Loss and Renewal. This isn’t a book about facilitation. Rather, it is a book about coming into relationship with despair, including some of my experience with descent and ascent. It’s highly personal material that maps the personal to the universal.

I also enjoy writing articles, thought papers, poems and the reflection that is participating in conversational podcasts.

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