Discussions/Submissions/How do we identify, develop and support community leadership?

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How do we identify, develop and support community leadership?

Title: How do we identify, develop and support community leadership?

Proposed by: User:Astinson (WMF) & Jaime Anstee

Description The Wikimedia Movement rarely relies on individual leaders to guide our global impact, rather many volunteer contributors and movement organizers lead with small acts: from “Being bold” during their first edit, to hosting edit-a-thons, and mentoring volunteers running programs and activities. Program Capacity & Learning at the Wikimedia Foundation is exploring how our movement can encourage and peer-mentoring and development of more community leaders as embedded within and across our regional and thematic communities.

During this conversation, we will talk about:

  • What leadership qualities should we support in our communities?
  • What strategies do communities currently use to identify, develop and support volunteer leadership?
  • What prevents volunteers from identifying themselves as movement leaders?

Purpose Frequently, we rely on individuals who already have the leadership skills and qualities before joining the movement, to lead. This often creates single points of failure within communities. Learning more about the common strategies and issues related to leadership will help our communities plan for developing more leaders in their own context. We expect the following outcomes from the discussion:

  • Leaders will understand big picture of where we are headed with program capacity and learning supports for community leadership development.
  • Community leaders will learn what resources our team currently offers to support them as leaders in their home communities
  • We will engage in a conversation about how to identify what leadership and what community leadership development could look like for our movement
  • Participants will Influence our team’s next steps in developing support for leadership development throughout the community.

Targeted participants

  • Existing program leaders
  • Volunteers interested in becoming stronger leaders within our community, both online and offline
  • Members and supporters of affilliates interested in encouraging leadership in their own context

Questions & Comments 23

  • Hi Astinson & Jaime, thank you for your proposal, which I find quite interesting. In your introduction, you state that the Wikimedia movement traditionally relies on the wisdom of the swarm and not on individual leadership. So can you explain why you are apparently trying to change this? Also, please be aware that at least from my cultural background, the words "leadership" and "leader" sound very awkward to begin with. Maybe you want to look for a different expression? Thanks, --Gnom (talk) 11:01, 17 April 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Gnom: Thanks for the great feedback! At the most basic level, we are in the process of developing more peer-to-peer mentoring for individuals who want to expand their role as "leaders" with activities, programs and guiding communities. More broadly we are working on developing a more collective understanding of shared definitions of leadership in the movement -- there are a lot of different ways we rely on the "swarm" to take responsibility, and then to engage others in persuing impact in fulfilling that responsibility. Our hope is to bring some more shared ideas on how to endorse that leadership in community members who act in their own context, to validate that the work they are doing and to help more communities design for helping volunteer learn how to do that kind of work.
As for the cultural incompatibility of the word "leader" -- we identified that in one of our consultations (esp. in the context of totalitarian/strongman governments and cultures). If you have suggestions for better language, we would love to have them (or we can work actively on that shared definition within our context). Astinson (WMF) (talk) 14:19, 18 April 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Astinson (WMF), maybe the expression "to take on responsibility" can be useful. --Gnom (talk) 15:06, 18 April 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • @Astinson (WMF): & @JAnstee (WMF): The general topic of 'community leadership' might be an interesting one to tackle, and to find a topic in. The specific proposal is a bit wide and feels more like a workshop or two day retreat than a 45 minute discussion (especially looking at the purpose). If we want to take on such topic, it would have to be refined, to focus probably on off-wiki or on-wiki leadership, and put two or three questions at the center. Also, ideally there should be clear outcomes - beyond 'understanding'. Still, it would be hard to program, given the heavy competition! Lets see where the balance brings us. Effeietsanders (talk) 09:21, 20 April 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Hello Effeietsanders. Thanks for your comments. While we could certainly use a two-day retreat, we have successfully held this conversation with a few different groups in time slots ranging from as little as 30 up to 60 minutes of discussion time so far. We do have specific prompts for the dialogue and will break into subgroups as needed to keep the conversation sizable to the time allotted. While it may be something to give more ample time where able, since engaging the community in the definition of leadership and gathering insight on how we can best support organic leadership in our movement are priority for us, and community engagement has specifically been called out as important for our team's upcoming work in our FDC annual plan review, we would nonetheless appreciate the opportunity to have this dialogue at Wikimania. These initial in-person dialogues continue to help inform our more general approaches for gathering input for this important work and are key to the process for defining how to support leadership in the movement. Thanks for your consideration JAnstee (WMF) (talk) 19:16, 16 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Hello Gnom Thank you for asking. That is partly correct, the discussion fits with other similar discussions we have been initiating as this will be a focus of our work next year and we will be shifting our existing learning day events into a peer mentoring support model as the Peer Academy. These discussions are the initial feeder into our work to develop the new Peer Academy model for program capacity and learning support in partnership with program and community leaders. JAnstee (WMF) (talk) 19:16, 16 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]