The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Making it right

The team had worked out a proposal for several grants and was presenting them to the assembly. The grants weren’t fully specified yet as the team wanted to have a confirmation of the principle. They also wanted to know which of the grants would be selected by the assembly. It made no sense to determine all the details it the project wasn’t going to take place. Dan, a participant highlighted how valuable one of the proposals was and went on suggesting a careful definition of its criteria.

In leadership, this is a decisive moment. The leader has at least two options. One of them is to take the comment, acknowledge it and decide on the spot what he will do about it. Another option is to integrate the comment and to promise to come back with a proposal at the next assembly.

Both options can be the right one. The difference between both is the perceived authority.

A leader who decides to come back to the assembly has decided, that what he heard from the assembly has such weight that he and his team don’t have enough authority to decide the execution of the project themselves. He evaluated the potential disagreement as a need for reconfirmation before being able to move ahead. He makes himself accountable for planning.

A leader who decides to go ahead based on the existing proposal assumes that he will be able to manage the process and find a satisfying answer to the execution of the project. He knows that he has received valuable information about one of many possible disagreements. He sees it as information he can use while working on the execution. He is taking the vote for the project as a vote to execute the project and thus as a confirmation of trust in their ability to do the work. He makes himself accountable for execution.

It is relevant to note, that if he takes his decision based on one comment he has made that person the leader, He gave the power of the whole assembly to that one person. In trying to make it right for that one person he leaves the other members of the assembly out of his consideration.

He may do so out of anxiety to use his authority or based on the authority he sees that one person having. The point here is, that the quest to make it right for individuals is an impossible endeavor. It ends up in taking or giving power.


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