Leadership and helping part 2, Community’s wisdom

Waiting for the community’s wisdom to surface:

Control-command leadership doesn’t work

Deborah Frieze writes:

Yet I know my heroic side is always there, too, the leader who wants to leap up and say, ‘I know how to solve that problem! Follow me!’ Then I forge ahead, bent on solving the problem myself, losing friends and colleagues along the way. And of course, my single-minded approach doesn’t solve the problem, it just creates more of them….

I’ve learned that when I listen rather than tell, when I wait for the community’s wisdom to surface rather than impulsively offer my own, then so much more is possible….

This, too, is familiar to me. On any number of committees, boards, how often am I the one with my hand up, just bursting with my creative solution to everything? This is how we were brought up in the US- to shine, to perform, to be special, to lead.  But as Frieze says, it is counter-productive and ultimately isolating.

What this kind of take-over approach tends to undermine is ‘co-motion’.

Co-motion is the opposite of promotion, it is spreading ideas through contagion rather than pushing people in a particular direction. Co-motion is walking at the pace of the other rather than at whatever pace you want to go. It is a horizontal movement that begins with being rooted in your own purpose and place and then connects with others in theirs.

Running through the book are new, gentler approaches to organising people, getting work done, improving a situation. They all sprung naturally out of the wisdom of community which says we are stronger and smarter together than apart. They have to do with letting people self organise and trusting them to find the solutions they need. They are about walking out of the idea of an expert or heroic leader coming to the rescue, and walking on to respecting that people have the power and wisdom they need to find their own solutions.

In part 3 I’ll conclude with ‘The Art of Hosting’ – a practical example of this from WOWO,  and how it is bringing positive change to an American city.


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