|Community Participation in Problem-solving: Leadership (Habitat)|
Sources of To be a leader, one has to have some kind of power or influence over people. power For instance, schoolchildren recognize that their teachers have the power to punish them - by keeping them late at school or setting them extra work - so they obey them. They recognize that the teachers have the power to reward them - by high marks or a smile - so they work hard for them. They know that their teachers have more knowledge than they on a particular subject, so they listen to them. They respect their teachers because they have been trained and licensed to teach, so they learn from them. They like them because they are concerned about their welfare, so they follow them.
Five sources of power are identified in this example. Three of them relate to things teachers can do:
One relates to their position, conferred authority or:
The fifth concerns their ability to be liked, or their
The following exercise asks you to reflect on the extent to which these five sources of power are typically found in community workers and local leaders.
TASK 2 What powers do l/they have?
To identify the relative power positions of community workers and local leaders.
1. Take each of the two roles - "community workers" and "local
leaders" and, in turn, list which of the above "powers" you think they typically
2. Note the main differences between the two roles, with respect to your listings.
3. If you are working in a group, compare your responses and discuss the different perceptions that emerge.
Some possible issues:
- In relation to "status", what might be the consequences of having power through being elected to a position (as with many local leaders) and being appointed to a position (as with community workers)?
- How important to having credibility is one's "status" in the eyes of the community?
- To what extent or in what senses can either community workers or local leaders have the power either to "punish" or to "reward"?
- What different of "informing power" or expertise do community workers and local leaders possess?
It might well be that you have decided that, compared with local leaders, community workers engaged in human settlements projects have no "power", In the usual sense of the term, but "influence". In other words, given their brief in relation to the communities in which they are working, they have little chance to direct what will happen - only an opportunity to persuade, encourage or "offer". In facilitating community participation, they are like the person who can lead a horse to water but cannot make it drink. If it were otherwise it would make nonsense of the idea of participation. To what extent is forced labour an example of participation?!
A crucial difference between community workers and local leaders is highlighted in the following story:
A tree-planting exercise was being carried out at a primary school. Children, teachers and parents were jointly involved in digging the holes, planting the saplings and then looking after them. On the day of planting, when the job was done, someone raised a problem. How were they going to make sure that animals that were grazed over the school compound did not damage the young trees?
"We shall need," said the project worker, "to persuade those people who have been bringing their cows here to keep off this area and take the somewhere else. Perhaps, we should put up posters around the village and talk with those people and explain the problem." "What problem?" said the local chief. "I shall simply issue a directive that, from now on, no-one will graze their cattle In this compound."
The community worker may not have much in the way of status, reward or punishing power, but may be a likeable person - someone who has an understanding of people and who Is respectful of people, their values and their aspirations. In helping people to solve their own problems and make their own decisions, perhaps the most vital bit of "Informing power" the most crucial bit of expertise - is the ability to manage the process of problem-solving. One main task is to structure situations within which people can confront the issues that concern people and plan the actions that can Improve their lives. This task is not to tell people how to save their problems but to show them a method they can use to do it for themselves. The goal for the community worker Is to become redundant in the community. The hope is that the facilitating methods demonstrated will be the ones taken up by the community leaders, so that they too become facilitators rather than directors of participation.
The rest of this manual will concentrate on the potentials for leading people through the problem-solving approaches described in the previous manual. It will assume that, In the initial phases of projects, the management of these methodologies will be In the hands of project staff. However, the idea is that these are tools for problem-saving that community groups can quickly learn to use for themselves. However, the style d leadership Is determined not only by the leader's own status or inclination but also by the nature of the group being led. Therefore, it will be Important to explore the characteristics of groups which either help or hinder the facilitating processes.