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Leadership is Convening

Community - The Structure of Belonging

This month’s Gifted Leaders e-Newsletter features excerpts from Peter Block’s book Community – The Structure of Belonging. In order to move from dividedness and fragmentation to community, a particular kind of “convening” leadership is required.

Highlights from the Article

Leadership is about intention, convening, valuing relatedness, and presenting choices. It is not a personality characteristic or a matter of style, and therefore it requires nothing more than what all of us already have.This means that we can stop looking for leadership as though it were scarce or lost, or it had to be trained into us by experts.

The core task of leaders is to create conditions for civic or institutional engagement. They do this through the power they have to name the debate and design gatherings. Leadership begins with understanding that every gathering is an opportunity to deepen accountability and commitment through engagement. The leader’s task is to structure the place and experience of these occasions to move the culture toward shared ownership.

This is very different from the conventional belief that the task of leadership is to set vision, enroll others in it, and hold people accountable through measurements and reward.

The world does not need leaders to better define issues, or to orchestrate better planning or project management. What it needs is for the issues and the plans to have more of an impact, and that comes from citizen accountability and commitment. Engagement is the means through which there can be a shift in caring for the well-being of the whole, and the task of leader as convener is to produce that engagement.

Convening leaders create and manage the social space within which citizens get deeply engaged. Through this engagement, citizens discover that it is in their power to resolve something or at least move the action forward. Engagement, and the accountability that grows out of it, occurs when we ask people to be in charge of their own experience and act on the well-being of the whole. Leaders do this by naming a new context and convening people into new conversations through questions that demand personal investment. This is what triggers the choice to be accountable for those things over which we can have power, even though we may have no control.

Read the article here.

The Gifted Perspective

Peter Block’s wise words couldn’t come at a better time! Building community, he says, requires a collective kind of leadership that supports a restorative path. We agree. What if we could create the conditions where our conversations (both private and public) could shift …

  • From a place of fear and fault to one of gifts, generosity, and abundance?

  • From a belief in more laws and oversight to a belief in social fabric and chosen accountability?

  • From the corporation and systems as central, to associational life as central?

  • From a focus on leaders to a focus on citizens?

  • From problems to possibility?

We believe it is possible and each of us can make a difference by choosing to lead and contribute in our own way.

We can assist you in redefining leadership and building community. Contact us today about individual leadership coaching or our Teams That Talk™ coaching approach!

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