Collective Visioning Exercise 8

Published on July 8, 2020.

Dear Friends,

Below please find Collective Visioning Exercise 8 from my book Collective Visioning: How Groups Can Work Together for a Just and Sustainable Future.  I have updated the exercises to make them friendlier for online use and will be sharing them over the course of the next few weeks.

If you would like to receive a free copy of my book Collective Visioning, email Spirit in Action with your full name and postal address and we will send one to you, one per person or organization, while supplies last.  We are only able to send them to addresses in the United States.  Thank you.

Peace, Power and Love

Linda Stout

A group doesn’t have to have only one leader; we all have leadership qualities, and together we can provide the leadership we need or identify what’s missing that we need to bring in. I often do this exercise with community folks, especially when they don’t think of themselves as leaders. I find that others can help build the skills folks need to feel comfortable leading.

Use a video conferencing program like Zoom, Skype or Google Hangout to do this exercise together.

Collective Visioning: Exercise 8

Shared Leadership

Start by asking people to identify what makes a good leader – the qualities or skills that are needed. The group will most likely create a long list, with items like these: good speaker, visionary, problem solver, organizer, writer, manager, good fund-raiser, respected member of the community, and so on.

Next, ask people who among them has ALL of these qualities. (So far, in my experience, no one has ever raised a hand to say that they have all of them!)

Then, using the “whiteboard” in Zoom for example, draw a circle like a wheel with as many spokes on it as there are items on the list.

Ask each person in the room to name one quality from the leadership list that they have. Use a text box to write the leadership quality on one spoke of the wheel and add the person’s name to the wedge of space. If other people have the same quality, add their names to the space as well.

If some people don’t know that they might be good at or are shy about saying so, get their friends to help. Sometimes people will add things like making phone calls for outreach or organizing potlucks. One time, a woman agreed only that she was good at cleaning the office. We put that down but encouraged her to come to all our workshops. She eventually became the leader for getting out the vote in her community.

After everyone’s name is on the picture, ask about other qualities on the list that don’t yet appear on the wheel. Some people are good at several things, and the group can decide where they are needed most. Next, ask how many of the people whose names are on the picture can actually commit time. Then, ask someone who is good at a certain activity – for example fund-raising or speaking – if they would teach one or two volunteers how to do that activity, and ask for volunteers who would like to learn these skills.

In some cases, the list may include a quality that the group doesn’t possess. For example, when the folks at the Piedmont Peace Project did this exercise, we realized that we needed someone who could do an economic analysis. We recruited a Harvard student from Boston to help us in this area. Groups have gone outside their organizations to recruit people with special skills they need and don’t have, such as photographers, media experts, architects, and so on. Or a group might decide to get one or more of their members trained in an important skill that they don’t yet have.

Finally, be sure to follow up (in another call, email or text message) to make this training possible! Too often, groups make plans and people excitedly make commitments. Then they get caught up in their busy lives and forget about the commitments they made. Other times, people get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Follow up with folks to keep them excited, motivated and building their leadership skills.

My blog, “The Leadership We Need Now,” talks about how all leadership is not alike, and how we must change the way we lead. Cultural shifts in how we think about power help us support – and be – strong leaders. You can also read and apply more exercises like this one in my book, Collective Visioning.


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