Leadership role belongs to the group. We need to develop more groups against environment crises
Reading Time in Minutes
- Leadership is a role that is filled by the group; management uses the group.
- Capitalism uses managers; it drives inequality and environmental damage.
- We need to learn how to develop and select people and groups to utilise leadership better.
- Think local, act local; global will find you.
About Conor O'Brien
I am a retired dairy farmer from a tradition of cooperative and local involvement. I am a member of the Board oversight on Mitchelstown Credit Union. Chairperson of Knockmealdown Active that develops outdoor activities there. Also involved with a local group using walks on the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees to build the community. I help to organise an October storytelling workshop on Cape Clear island, sadly not this year. Learning more about the soil every day. Reading. Local and general economic history.
Contacting Conor O'Brien
You can follow Conor on Twitter
By Conor O’Brien
Leadership is about effectiveness; management is about efficiency. The first focuses on prioritising the purpose of the group, the other on the best return for the resources used. Leadership is not an individual asset, but an essential role in a group; management is a valuable skill that can be priced -and discarded if too expensive. The role of leader is filled by a group decision; the role of manager is decided by the owner of the resources. A culture of leadership is core to a cooperative entreprise; a culture of management is core to a capitalist enterprise.
In a cooperative the assets are held in common, in a capitalist entreprise assets are owned by individuals. Garrett Hardin predicted that property held in common would be destroyed by individuals extracting more than their share. He suggested dividing the commons into individual properties to prevent damage. Elinor Ostrom got a Nobel prize for showing otherwise: that all over the world assets which are held in common are managed prudently for the benefit of all participants.
The participants of cooperatives are independent members of their organisations. They each have a voice in selecting the person to fill the role of leader, and expect them to coordinate the work in a way that achieves the purpose of the group while respecting the values of the members.
The reward to the leader will derive from the work involved in the role, and will be decided upon by the group. It will not come from control of the output of the group.
A capitalist entreprise is owned and managed to maximise the return on the capital involved without regard to either the employees or the environment. The income of the manager is dependent on how well they maximise the capital involved. It is a system that has produced our modern world.
Both leadership and management are the factors that make the difference between success and failure in their respective entreprises.
What does also seem to have grown with capitalism and the managerial approach is the growth of multiple layers of management and increasingly disproportionate rewards to the upper layers. It is increasingly being accepted that the drive of capitalism for it’s constant growth is a major factor in this.
We are facing the environmental crises that Garrett Hardin predicted, but it has come from his solution. This was to divide and allocate to private property every possible part of the commons. But capitalism cannot use something that has no value. It cannot sell fresh air, or a clean environment. Nor can it sell the care of children by their parents. Not being able to use such things to grow itself, it ignores and demeans them.
The major changes that are needed to save our environment will not come from the top 10% of capitalism. They are too far removed from it’s immediate effects, too protected with layers of managers to have any common feelings with the 90% of people who will be affected, and have reached their position by ignoring those feelings when they arise.
That is why leadership is so important. We need to build a diversity of organisational structures from the ground up. We have many valuable examples. The Credit Union movement in Ireland has over three million members; there are GAA and other sports organisations in every parish; there are home-grown Tidy Towns and local development organisations in most towns and villages.
What is most missing, in my experience, is autonomous organisations that benefit young people themselves, and where they learn to volunteer and develop the necessary social skills to be independent thinkers and social organisers. The Maker community is showing how this might develop.
Think local, act local; global will find you.