Growing Leaders and other musings

The road to dissension

Most organisations start with a small group of people who work very closely together and with either relatively low key communual leadership or a charismatic individual.  This group often develops a shared history with key events marking the formation of the group.  This “mythology” is then used to explain the group to others as they join up.  This kind of bonding experience is very important in Cells as Trotsky described them, and is often used to show why the group is special and different and why a new postulant would benefit from joining the group.

This all works very well up to a certain size, which will vary with the personality of the individuals, the attractiveness of the mythology and the ratio of new people to old guards.

The problems start to appear when the founding tales begin to lose value to the newest members of the group and they start to appear as an artificial mechanism to explain why the original team are still the leaders.

In the Christian world we may expect that the Bible and accepted doctrine would provide an over ruling scripture, trumping the formation tales however it is surprising how often original members invoke these stories.  For many organisations a person appears to have a different status if they were there at a significant event such as 94 when the current movement started, leaders often speak of their experiences and how it shaped them without realising that they are effectively excluding new comers who can never share that experience.

Clubs and organisations with restrictive entry conditions are intending to limit growth to an acceptable level and will allow earlier members to benefit from the increased cost of entry without personally having to pay the fee.

For Christian organisations that is not the objective.  We must be aware of when personaly significant events are perceived as being a barrier to entry, this retelling of significant experiences  is very natural and rarely deliberate. Leaders can encourage the development of continuous new experience that the whole group can share and be careful of the language used to describe events in the past.  Of course without being caught up in the artificial creation of ersatz experiences, I believe that just by being aware of the issue, leaders will be able to turn these very important events into inclusive teaching and bonding aids rather than being a source of exclusion.