Interesting report from a group I hadn’t heard of before, the Centre for Innovative and Entrepreneurial Leadership. THey have just released a publication called “Coping with Growth and Change: The state of leadership in rural BC.” I have an interest in this given that I teach and facilitate collaborative leadership and I live ina rural community in BC.
The report’s authors write:
“Many people see leadership development assisting with issues like change, economic diversification, youth attraction, innovation and collaboration, key ingredients to 21st Century success for rural communities.”
Many communities reported that youth are moving away and young families are not moving in. “Young people between the ages of 25 and 34 are the ones who typically start families and businesses, critical issues for communities,” says report co-author Mike Stolte, President-Elect of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF).
“The theme of youth leadership came up time and time again,” stated report co-author Stacy Barter, of CIEL. “Communities say they don’t know how to engage younger people. The established leaders are getting older and many of them are feeling burned out.”
One of the things that is exhausting community leaders, according to the study, is the increasing challenge of creating dialogue and communication between groups. “Many communities told us they want to work together, but they just don’t know how,” said Barter. “They want to learn how to practice collaborative leadership.”
The report shows that many communities are caught in a bind. “If special care is not taken to conserve the qualities fostering our community’s distinctive character, critical dimensions of its image and identity may be lost.” “These issues are dividing communities,” said Barter.
“The kind of leadership training they are asking for, collaborative leadership, involves the skills of leading a community through these differences. Without a new kind of leadership, they are telling us, the differences will continue to divide people, and the rate of growth will continue to overwhelm them.”
It seems there is an appetite everywhere for this kind of leadership. Yesterday talking with a friend involved in the biodeisal energy he was speculating that the shift in leadership models to something ore dialogic and less top down is a generational one. He was remarking that it seemed as if the current generation of 35-55 year olds were assuming th emantle of leadership and were altering by flattening structures that concentrate power. Of course my friend Jon Husband has been predicting this for a long time. He calls the idea wirearchy, informed as it is by the ways in which networked structures change power systems and leadership lenses. This report is encouraging to me, as it says that more and more people in governance systems (who tend to cling to the status quo) are finally loosening the kinds of leadership styles that characterize local government, and they are looking for some other way to deal with the stresses of the work they have to do.
[tags]local government, british columbia, rural communities, wirearchy[/tags]