query: leaders to organizers

colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Wed Sep 17 21:20:52 CDT 2003


[ed:  Lisa offers a perspective on the discussion.]

From: "Lisa J. Marshall" <lisa at smartworkco.com>

I wonder if we're asking the right questions here.  I think this is 
actually a conversation about leadership maturity.  If you study 
leadership, it's clear that mature leadership involves developing 
other people.  Lao Tzu: "The bad leaders are hated and feared, the 
good leaders are loved and admired, the great leaders, the people 
say "We did it ourselves."  From my frame of reference, 
community organizing is leadership, mature leadership.  That said, 
transitioning a community person into that role would obviously 
take energy and thought.  A lot of folks just want to be a good 
leader -- loved and admired -- rather than a great leader -- 
invisible.  Of course, the other side of the coin is that you get lots of 
young community organizers who obviously aren't very mature 
either.  We have a nation addicted to Peter Pan leadership, where 
you're young and charismatic and have great adventures and never 
lose and take really good care of the Lost Boys.  And in return, we 
never ask you to grow up.  Community organizing isn't immune 
from that disease.......  

"Preparing for the Best"
The Smart Work Company
1365 Hamilton Street NW
Washington, DC 20011
202 829-0795 f: 202 829-5324
http://www.smartworkco.com
lisa at smartworkco.com
> .
> [ed:  thanks to John and Brad for engaging us in discussion on this query.]
> 
> From: "David Chavis" <dchavis at capablecommunity.com>
> 
> I don't know about the literature, but it has been one of the biggest
> mistakes organizations and foundations make. It's a good way to undermine an
> organizing effort, take away a leader and make an ineffective organizer. I
> have never seen anyone successfully make the transition within their
> community. I have seen this mistake made many times, because a lot of well
> intended foundations and community based organizations don't know enough to
> know the differences and consequences.
> 
> David
> 
> *****************************
> 
> From: "Brad Fields" <bradfields at comcast.net>
> 
> Why not look at the question the other way around?  That is, community 
> organizing is the only arena of organizing (or social movement building) 
> that I know of that makes the distinction between organizers and 
> leaders.  Look at labor organizing, feminist organizing, civil rights 
> organizing, etc., etc.
> Brad Fields
> 
> 
> > .
> > [ed:  please feel welcomed to copy COMM-ORG with responses to
> > John's query.]
> >
> > From: John David Krinsky <jdk21 at columbia.edu>
> >
> > I was hoping to ask the list whether anyone knew of any articles,
> > training materials, etc.--in short, anything in writing--about leaders
> > in IAF-style organizations being turned into organizers and the
> > problems, tensions, purpose, and rewards of brining leading
> > members on staff.  The question could be broadened to ACORN
> > and other groups using that distinction, or to groups who don't but
> > who draw staff from membership.
> >
> > Thanks.
> >
> > John Krinsky
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