Leadership and helping

Ranging from a remote village in South America to a city in the USA, the journeys to communities documented in ‘Walk Out, Walk On’, challenge our conventional approach to aid.

In the West we are taught to value efficiency, top down leadership, professionalism, control, result oriented thinking, protocols, etc. But repeatedly on these journeys, the authors came to see entirely different principles at work and succeeding. They and others involved in these communities have had to re examine their approach to leadership and to ‘helping’. And of course by proxy, as a serious reader, so have I.

To make this post a manageable length, I won’t go into the special attributes of each of the communities visited. Let’s just say, that they all had unique problems to solve in the areas of education, self organisation, livelihood, health, etc. And these problems had not been previously been  solved by conventional methods.

As we increasingly see in our failing governments and corporate systems, command-and-control leadership doesn’t work.

it…’smothers basic human capacities such as intelligence, creativity, caring, dreaming.’

People resist the imposition of force by withdrawing, opposing, sabotaging. Leaders react by first cajoling and rewarding, then resorting to harsher measures like threatening, punishing and policing,  and a destructive cycle results. This cycle destroys motivation, and sense of worth. We come to believe what those in power say about us – that we’re lazy, worthless, useless.

Power of this kind breeds powerlessness.People believe they need a strong leader to rescue them, The leader believes he must take control or nothing will get done.

Oh goodness, don’t you recognise this dynamic? Haven’t you been on both sides of this, either being forced or manipulated into acting; or trying to get someone else who was unwilling, to do something? I certainly have, both in toxic organisations and in relationships. And it is an absolute lose-lose situation. Even if you manage to get the person to acquiesce through one of these methods, you know deep in your heart that you’ve not acted kindly or wisely. Yet we’ve all been victims of this reality in one way or another.

But there are other ways:  continued in part 2


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