Is Your Leadership Style Preventing Community Engagement?

An inspiring podcast by Torrey at Aid for Aid workers interviewing Dr Deborah Cummins of Bridging Peoples who advocates for Process over Outcomes
Is Your Leadership Style Preventing Community Engagement?

How much do we share project decision making power in a meaningful way with communities?

My take-aways from listening to this podcast are: 

  • You need to be strategic and be clear who the groups you need to engage with are (to reach your goal);
  • Ownership is not a feeling, “a sense of local ownership” doesn’t exist, you either have ownership, i.e. decision making power, or you don’t;
  • Being process focussed instead of outcome focused;
  • Strategically transfer decision making power at a pace that suits the stakeholders/the ones you are transferring it to;
  • Building flexibility into your project proposal (during the design/writing stage) to provide meaningful space and time for processes (e.g. relationship building, reflection);
  • Recruit your field staff well and protect them against possible ‘failure’ (i.e. not reaching your Key Performance Indicators - KPIs);
  • Include KPIs that have to do with time spent on relationship building and time spent in team meetings talking about the structure of the community, the difference of community leaders (are they supportive?), encourage staff to speak to each other as peers (i.e. team building), which helps shift the conversation from outputs to process. Ask your team: are there parts of the community that you feel are left out (of the project) at this time and are important to reaching our goal? Who could be our champions within the community?;
  • Other example of measures of success for processes, relationship building and time for reflection: record stories from staff about building relationships with communities;
  • Bottom line: prioritise process over outcome.

Much food for thought and makes we want to go back in time and improve on some of the work I've done!

Comments, thoughts, ideas & feedback are welcome and much appreciated! 


Resources mentioned:

 The Barefoot Guide Collection to Social Inclusion

Linkedin Group - Community Engagement

Dr Deborah Cummins Linkedin

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Go to the profile of Beth Robinson
almost 2 years ago

Great article, thanks for sharing. I'll try and listen to the podcast.

Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
almost 2 years ago

Thanks, Beth!

Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
almost 2 years ago

@Reyni Tresia Palohoen: maybe useful for the SY team as well? Hope you're all doing well.