rn> Rosa Zubizarreta => ** Essay on Leadership **


Richard Moore

Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000 11:23:54 -0800
To: •••@••.•••
From: Rosa Zubizarreta <•••@••.•••>

Hi Richard,

i really believe that one of the "sticking points" where we
are getting blocked in terms of organizing is around issues
of leadership. Given all of the abuse of leadership in our
current system, it's perfectly understandable. At the same
time, it is very self-destructive for us to throw out the
baby with the bathwater...

there is a lot of interesting stuff in business circles
about concepts such as "servant leadership", etc, that is
arising basically because the hyper-competitiveness in the
business world is creating a need for companies that
maximize the intelligent and creative participation of all
of its members ,which traditional forms of leadership don't
do. (AS YOU KNOW, my using this example does not mean i am
an advocate of capitalism nor of corporate greed!)

I think it would be VERY helpful for organizing purposes to
have articulated a theory of xxx leadership. (Call it
democratic leadership, or facilitative leadership, or
whatever you want. but in essence, the "good" kind.)

This of course needs to be articulated in a different sort
of language than the one which the business world uses.

I don't have the time at the moment to do a full and
comprehensive treatment here, but some essential points
would be (these are not original...)

1) one of the main functions of leadership is to develop,
encourage, and support others in becoming leaders.

2) there is no shortage of the need for leadership. It's not
a zero-sum game. instead of pyramids, we need to think of it
in terms of overlapping circles. You are leading the
renaissance network effort. I am a participant in that
effort. I can be leading a "facilitation for activists"
effort. You are a participant in that effort. We are all
active, empowered participants in a wide variety of efforts.
Yet, as leaders, we take overall janitorial responsibility
for ensuring the comprehensive well-being of a select few.
(Otherwise, we'd be ridiculously stretched, if we tried to
"lead" every single thing in which we wanted to

3) Everyone has the potential to be a leader in some area
about which they care deeply. The solution to past abuse of
leadership is to help larger numbers of people step into
their natural leadership, NOT to try and do away with the
function of leadership altogether, nor to attack people that
are trying to serve others by taking leadership
responsibility. Self-organization DEPENDS upon a maximum
degree of leadership ability in each and every one of us.

4) There are several functions of leadership. One is to hold
a vision of something that will be of benefit to all, and
coordinate the collaboration of all of those who are
inspired by that particular vision.

5) Another function of leadership is to facilitate the
coordination of problem solving efforts by inviting
everyone's best thinking about a particular area, and
creating a forum where group consensus can emerge. THIS

6) The person who is coordinating the leadership function
for a particular area (i use the longhand instead of the
shorthand word "leader" because that word has become so
charged!) is responsible for seeing to it that stuff gets
done -- which does not necessarily mean doing it themselves
(NOR does it mean imposing tasks on others!) What it does
mean, is asking for help.

7)  For example, in terms of the facilitation function, in
many cases the coordinator ("leader")  might choose to
invite someone to serve as facilitator, especially if the
leader has particularly strong opinions on the subject under

8) LEADER AS JANITOR: Another key leadership function is
being "loose ends coordinator". This means taking
responsibility for the function of the group as a whole, and
taking care of any loose ends that may be falling between
the cracks. Again, the person taking responsibility for this
fulfills their function best by ASKING FOR HELP. At the same
time, if help is not immediately forthcoming, or if the
person doing a particular task is somehow unable to do so,
the responsibility reverts to the coordinator for doing it
themselves, finding someone else to do it, etc.

9) It is of course true that small, stable groups are able
to, over time, share these functions equally amongst
themselves. If we are a group of 6 or so, who know each
other well, we may not need to designate any one person
"official janitor" in order to make sure that all the
difficult stuff gets done. HOWEVER, if we are a larger
group, or a newer group, or a group with fluctuating
membership, it is very difficult to function well without
having some designated individuals taking responsibility for
particular functions.

Well, that's all for now, off the top of my head... there's
more, but this is a fair start...

I am VERY tired of seeing how lack of understanding of these
basic kinds of principles holds us back....

And, the reason i have put forth all of the above, is that i
think that some of the cultural resistance i am encountering
to facilitation in general, is due to the general distrust
for leadership. Having one person at a meeting designated as
"facilitator" just seems to push lots of folk's buttons....

as i've mentioned before, my ideal is that we would ALL know
how to do this, so that everyone can take turns as needed.
Often it's hard to find someone neutral in a group on a
particular issue -- organizations could be paired up, as
"buddies", so that our local environmental organization
could provide facilitators for our labor organization
meetings, and vice versa.....

i know i'm biased in this respect, but in my opinion, if we
want to get organized, having basic literacy in facilitation
be as wide-spread as possible is absolutely key....

Of course, another way in which facilitation may push
people's buttons is that by nature, it is NOT adversarial --
it is instead collaborative. So, maybe to the extent that
people realize that part of the need is to CREATE EFFECTIVE
ALTERNATIVES THAT WORK, rather than to simply be "against"
some thing or other, folks will start to realize its

At the risk of having you "turn off" and not hear anything
else i'm saying (which having met you briefly, i realize is
not that likely :-) i do want to acknowledge another "bias"
of mine --

while i agree with much of your analysis, i truly believe
that there are many so-called "elites" who are hanging on to
their desperate policies only because they themselves do not
see any alternatives -- maybe they don't have the faith in
the "general public" that you or i have -- but who would
absolutely WELCOME seeing sane and effective solutions
emerge to the mess that we are all in.

And i myself, while i do see many instances of ordinary
humans doing quite wonderful things, often feel so
frustrated at how much better we could be doing... YES,
there is oppression, yes there are all kinds of constraints,
AND, what can we do with the whatever "small degree of
freedom" we do in fact have??

(Have you read Michael Lerner's Surplus Powerlessness? I'm
curious as to what you think of it...)

Anyhow, that's the end of my rant for now! Please forgive
any excesses, and know that i greatly appreciate you and
your work....

Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000 11:23:54 -0800
To: •••@••.•••
From: Rosa Zubizarreta <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fwd: Participatory Facilitation Workshop in January 2001
Cc: •••@••.•••

Hi Richard,

I am forwarding to you the following announcement i received
from Tom, about a very low-cost facilitation course that
will be offered from activists, because you may know some
folks here who may be interested in taking it. Strange as it
seems, sometimes we need to go (literally or metaphorically)
half-way around the world in order to find out about stuff
in our own back yard....


X-Sender: •••@••.•••
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2000 21:38:53 -0800
To: •••@••.••• (undisclosed list)
From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Participatory Facilitation Workshop in January 2001

Dear friends,

I'm so pleased that my friend Sam Kaner's group Community At
Work is offering an affordable facilitation workshop for
activists and volunteer world-workers.  (see
http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-facilitation.html )

I usually rave about dynamic facilitation, which is my
favorite group facilitation technique.  But it is wise to
have a full facilitation toolbox and a broad facilitation
sensibility so you can really help diverse groups with their
diverse facilitation needs.  What I like about Community At
Work's approach is (a) it covers a wide range of techniques
(b) in the context of a powerful overarching theory of how
meetings work -- a theory that has influenced my thinking
profoundly for years since I first ran across it.  In my
website I give a very high rating to Sam's book on
Participatory Decision-Making.  This workshop is based on
that book, and you get a copy as part of the course.  You'll
find yourself referring to it often.

If you are interested in facilitation, I recommend this rare



_ _ __ _ _ _ _

Putting Participatory Values into Practice

Taught by Susan Lubeck, J.D.
Senior Consultant, Community At Work

January 18-21, 2001
Thursday evening 6pm-9pm
Friday through Sunday 10am-6pm
Community At Work, San Francisco

COST:  Sliding scale $40 - $125 per person
         (Note: normal price for this workshop is $675-$1275)

ELIGIBILITY:  Grassroots activists who regularly donate at least 5+
hours per week, unpaid, in support of progressive social action.

This course teaches participants how to put participatory
values into practice.  Skill building is emphasized, with
practice sessions in the following areas: stand-up skills;
group-oriented listening skills; brainstorming technique;
tools for prioritizing long lists; facilitating open
discussions, breaking into small groups; using structured
go-arounds; understanding and working with group norms;
handling conflict respectfully; consensus-building
technique; dealing with difficult dynamics; goal-setting;
agenda design; and procedures for making final decisions.
Participants are exposed to more than 200 tools and
techniques.  Everyone receives a copy of the Facilitator's
Guide to Participatory Decision-Making.

Susan Lee Lubeck, J.D., has spent most of her professional
career working on issues related to chronic urban poverty. 
For ten years, Susan worked at the Oakland-based Urban
Strategies Council, where she facilitated large-scale
collaborative processes that led to changes in government
policy and resource distribution, in such areas as education
reform and neighborhood development.  In 1991, Susan joined
the staff of Community At Work as a specialist in
participatory organization development. She has taught GROUP
FACILITATION SKILLS workshops for community leaders in New
York, Florida, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Oakland, San
Francisco and Washington D.C.

Please call Sunny Sabbini at 415-282-9876.  She will confirm
your eligibility to attend this workshop, discuss payment,
and place your name on a "registration pending" list.  Your
registration will be finalized when your payment has been

The workshop has a maximum attendance of 24 people.  
Registration will be finalized on a first-come first-served
basis.  If the workshop is already filled when you send in
your payment, your check will be returned to you.

Full refunds will be given for cancellations made with three
weeks notice.  After January 1st all registrations are final
-- no refunds will be issued for cancellations after January
1st.  If you register and cannot attend, you are welcome to
send someone else in your place, so long as that person also
meets the eligibility criteria.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tom Atlee  *  The Co-Intelligence Institute  *  Eugene, OR

Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
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