There are times when you just need a strong leader to make something happen

My thesis (which I write about on this blog), which I accept is only an ideal: Community Development is the answer to everything. One problem with this thesis: But, there are times when you just need a strong leader to make something happen.

Definition: a “strong leader” model – the way of working where there is one person who is the leader, who is fairly autocratic or authoritarian, and who takes all the decisions (though they may ask for others’ ideas) and has all the responsibility.  Everyone else largely does what they are told to do.  It is very appealing to human nature – assuming they are a good quality leader, it means everyone else can enjoy knowing there is a clear vision, knowing what their role is within the vision, knowing what they have to do next, and not having the responsibility for overall success.  It is also often very quick to achieve a conclusion (success or failure) because the process doesn’t involve lots of discussion.

How to integrate the “strong leader” model within Community Development

The community decides when to use the “strong leader” model: who they want as leader, their powers, responsibilities, limits, and when the community will take charge again.  Fundamentally, the community is always in power: they just choose to use the “strong leader” model on occasion, delegating certain decisions, in a similar way to them choosing to use a particular tool or technique where they “delegate” certain decisions to the process described by the tool or technique.  And I think it would be important that there isn’t a long-term or permanent leader – one is appointed each time (preferably a different one) for a specific project.

Problem: most people and communities tend towards wanting a strong leader most of the time – it’s human nature. Therefore the Community Development work (catalysed by the Community Development worker) that has to be done, is to urge the community to limit their use of the “strong leader” model.  They need to limit how often they nominate a leader, and also for how long the leader is in power before the community takes charge again, and then how much power and responsibility the leader has.

Process and method: in each situation when the community wants a strong leader, the community should work in a Community Development way to do as much as possible to limit what they actually need a leader to do.  Through Community Development techniques, the community should do as much of the task as possible, and should make as many decisions as possible, before the leader’s role begins.  Also, again using Community Development, the community should design the role of the leader and nominate the leader, and set out the limits of the leader’s job.  The community should be encouraged to narrow down and cut away as much as possible of what the leader will do, and take on more and more itself.

My implication in this whole post is that, while it is always possible to impose greater limits on the use of a “strong leader” model, there will always come a point when a “strong leader” is needed – a tiny kernel.

Question: Given my examples above, is the “strong leader” model only needed and appropriate for making an event happen?

Question: Am I right that a “strong leader” is sometimes needed?

Other thought: My thoughts on Community Development are really me doing philosophy.

Related post: Need for leadership


90 percent of the internet is amateur crap

so 10 percent is good, and the bigger the internet becomes, the bigger that 10 percent becomes. Just read an interesting article called The Internet is 90% Amateur Crap…and therein lies its greatness (by Kevin Kelly, May 31, 2007).

Greater participation leads to a lot more of everything – crap, and good stuff too. And the more good stuff there is, the more very good stuff there’s likely to be.

This is about content – articles, blogs, YouTube videos etc. How does this correspond to the “products” of Community Development, if it does? Is it analogous to Social Capital or cohesion, or community projects undertaken, or jobs created or training courses undertaken, or votes cast or debate contributions made or campaigns undertaken? (Wow, there are lots of “products”!)

My initial answer to my own question is that the analogy with the “90 percent of the internet is amateur crap” story is to the democratic participation “products”. So it goes like this: 90 percent of any democratic participation is amateur crap, so as democratic participation increases (more people vote, participate in debates and consultations, and undertake campaigns) the 10 percent of the democratic participation that is good gets bigger (along with the 90 percent that’s crap) so there’s more chance of some democratic participation that is very good.