Project leadership and other failed ideas

There are many models of leadership.  One  I’m not particularly fond of is where the leader pitches the vision then creates the plans to get there.  Community development is suspicious of such leaders who do things to people.  It was a reading from Peter Block that opened my eyes to another way of going about leadership.

IMG_1784[1]That reading is Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community – Changing the nature of the conversation and was the set reading for the Wednesday reading group on 24th June 2015 at Dear Daisey Cafe.

My student experience of leadership leant heavily on leadership as a project management process.  It was complicated and nuanced.  The role was to manage people and their expectations toward a goal.

As project leader we find ourseleves asking how we can get people to engage with questions like;

How do we hold those people accountable?
How do we get people to show up and be committed?
How do we get others to be more responsible?
How do we get people on-board and to do the right thing?
How do we get others to buy-in to our vision?

How many times have I had versions of these questions running in my head before a church council meeting.  Block confronts this… he writes

A restorative community is created when we shift the language of the civic debate away from the default conversation of the conventional questions, which build resistance, and move it into questions that build commitment and accountability. Questions that have the power to make a difference are ones that:

1.Engage people with each other,
2. Confront them with their freedom, and
3. Invite them to co-create a future possibility.

Unfortunately Block doesn’t give methodologies about how to go about this.  He is a principle man.  He offers a theory and a new set of principles and then says “Go away and make it happen”.  It was Richard Harmer who gave the me the basic experiential skills and his story is for another day.

With colleagues and friends we are in search of how to create space where people connect with each other, are confronted with freedom (including the spirit) and are invited to create a future. We see ourselves as host of  gatherings rather than chair of meetings.  We see ourselves as community organisers rather than project managers.  And it is exploring how to do this is what Faith in Action is really all about.