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