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.
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.
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]
“Is he like their ringleader?” Valerie asked.
“More like their rainmaker.” Sky replied at the communities conference meeting, which sparked a whole conversation about organizing models in the progressive/radical movement.
The ringleader is running their own gang. Oft charismatic, this person offers a vision or at least a direction and strongly shapes the role of other gang/tribe members. There is a sense that elevating the ring leader and their agenda will strengthen your whole house and that often deferring to their wisdom in terms of action will advance the members beyond where they would be outside of the collective.
Rainmakers are resource people and networkers. They need not be charismatic nor have leadership skills, they need to know how to fix and manifest things. They probably don’t know how to get electricity from the nearby light poll hooked up to the recently occupied squat, but they know the person who can do it and they know how to get her to come over soon, so we can stop using these candles before we burnt the whole place down by accident.
It was a good day yesterday. Inspiring conversation with BB and Rob Jones and Ali. And also this personal clarification of roles, that i am more the guy who manifests stuff than the charismatic leader.