Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Leadership as service

Many of our problems in life come from how we communicate with each other - the giving of opinion and information and the receiving of both. Having just had a fairly controversial piece (on the 2020 Programme concerned with congregation planting) published in the Inquirer, it is fascinating to observe how people have interpreted it. The views that worry me are those who think that I am (a) being negative and (b) against change. 

It is always easier to make a sweeping judgement - we do these things all the time. I say 'we' because I see myself doing it. It is always easier to label the person that we don't agree with as 'other' - to give them characteristics that we don't consider ourselves to have ... being negative, anti-change, conservative, old-fashioned and so on. What this does is close down debate - if there is one.  On the issue that I have written about there has been no debate outside of the General Assembly's Executive Committee and staff, or if there has it has been carried out in private.

I could go on about this particular issue but this is not my point.  My point is about how we develop spiritual community. I will re-post a section from my other blog, Governance4Unitarians

The Charity Commission identifies six key principles for good governance. The last of these is being open and accountable. It says this

An effective board will provide good governance and leadership by being open and accountable.  The Board will lead the organisation in being open and accountable, both internally and externally. This will include:

  • open communications, informing people about the organisation and its work;
  • appropriate consultation on significant changes to the organisation’s services or policies
  • listening and responding to the views of supporters, funders, beneficiaries, service users and others with an interest in the organisation’s work;
  • handling complaints constructively and effectively; and
  • considering the organisation’s responsibilities to the wider community, for example its environmental impact.

Whilst, as someone remarked to me, we do not need to be driven by the Charity Commission in all that we do, I do think that as Unitarians we should welcome and promote open and accountable governance. In co-creating spiritual community we need to hear what people are truly saying; we need to try not to label them, as a way to argue against them, but engage with the issues;and those of us who lead our local or national communities need to be accountable.

As leaders, we are not just accountable for a bit of what we do, we are accountable for all of it. We are not at war with those that we lead, we are serving them.

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