The two tests of an organizer

There are many ways you can influence a group. One of the most common formats is the leader/citizen model. But this approach has all kinds of problems with it from misrepresenting constituent voices to corruption to ego mania. What some of us in the radical community propose instead is a organizer/facilitator model.

people on gears

There are two important tests for the difference between organizers and leaders. The first is the scope test. Leaders are responsible for big ideas, agendas and quests. They need to find people to do all of the tasks (or find people who find people to do them). Leaders are busy managing the collective resources of the group to complete the shared vision.

No job is too low for an organizer. They fit in where needed. They help draw the agenda and vision for the group from the best ideas of the group. Organizers are busy too, but they are working on being part of the ad hoc collections of teams and task forces that get things done. Sometimes they manage these, other times they are doing things anyone could do.

hands of color sillotte

The second test is a credit test. When the work of a leader is completed and the populace is asked what has happened, most will respond by saying “Look at the wonderful things our leader has accomplished.” When an organizer is finished the people will say “Look at the great things we have accomplished.”

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

8 responses to “The two tests of an organizer”

  1. robino says :

    The best leaders are those their people hardly know exist 😉

  2. Ahnika Delirium says :

    Wonderful food fer thought! I am working up some visioning for a community/business/skillshare model & this is very helpful in keeping perspective & considering the semantical & real differences between the roles. Many Thanx! Miss yer face! Come by sometime.
    xo AD

  3. mattiereitman says :

    But, there are lots of varieties of leadership! Perhaps words are simply getting in our way, but the type of leadership you describe I call “Visionary Leadership”. There’s also task, ethical, strategic, and process leadership.

    I’m bothering to say this here because I think your post unnecessarily polarizes organizing and leadership, when in reality they quite need each other. In my opinion, both characterize much broader things than what you’ve described.

    • Jan Haverkamp says :

      Be careful here. What you describe is a US version of leadership. In “old” Europe and above all in the Central and Eastern part of it where I live, no matter what intention you put into leadership, it will include in the minds of people hierarchy. To be very honest, I think it includes it in a hidden way in the US version of “leadership” as well… I think it is necessary to polarise here – in order to prevent the (authority) hierarchy from hiding behind participative tricks.

      What Pax describes is facilitation – the facilitative organiser. That does not fit into any definition of leadership that has even the slightest hue of (authority) hierarchy…

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