Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Steering Committee Leadership?

We just had our first Steering committee meeting for the local Transition initiative. It surprised me because it was called with less than 24 hours notice via a long email thread. I was able to make it work, though. Only my potluck contribution suffered; I took a jar of nuts.

There are 6 of us, and the group is mostly women, mostly white, mostly 40s-50s. We had a strict time limit since there was another green-function meeting that evening that most people were planning to attend, so really there was an hour and a half of meeting time. We managed to spend half of that just eating, and then feeling (well, I felt, anyway) alternately rushed and bored by the rest.

I am unclear as to whether we have a "leader" or not. There seems to be a bit of unacknowledged (or acknowledged, perhaps) pecking order. The person who got this ball rolling behaves as though she is the leader. She brought some notes she had made from the US website and suggested? forced? insisted? assumed? that the agenda be her reading through her notes almost verbatim. The rest of us interrupted some, asked for clarification some, and I didn't feel like any of us got very clear.

I think my role in the meeting was to serve as a focuser. Where appropriate and non-challenging to the the power-status of the "leader", I tried to speak clearly and effectively to summarize and to facilitate understanding. I was the one who named and recognized our last conversation as the beginning of the next step of the process we are engaging, suggested a strategy for how we could all come feeling better informed for next meeting, and said where I thought we should start at our next meeting. I then pushed to schedule and iron out details of the next meeting.

I want to be careful not to do anything to assume a (disproportionately) leadership role because I think this needs to be co-created. That said, I find I am also hesitant to fully challenge or effectively criticize the de facto leader's power, since I do not know the politics of it. After processing here, I realize that should be a clarification conversation before we get much further.

I do, however, have criticisms of her leadership thus far, specifically the effectiveness of agenda and time management, though her enthusiasm helps balance it. She really does want this to happen, and I wonder if some of the reason for me to be a part of this is because I am clearer about how to do those things.

I will ponder this and perhaps sketch out my own agenda for next meeting and see how that goes. If I can present it and we can talk about and modify it as a group, I will feel better, I think.

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