The Ethics of succcess through serving Universal Participation
a ‘1-page’ Development Programme for LSAs & other Baha’i Institutions – to release the power for success
There are two sources for guiding principles in this programme:-
i) The principles of Universal Participation, transformation & effective planning – called for by The Universal House of Justice
ii) The principle enshrined in this statement by the Guardian on leadership;
“The first quality of leadership both among individuals & assemblies is the capacity to use the energy & competence that exists in the rank and file of its followers. Otherwise the more competent members of the group will go at a tangent & try to find elsewhere a field of work & where they could use their energy.”
Groups and individuals help each other in striving toward maturity. We might therefore also add this interesting statement by Carl Rogers in his book On Becoming a Person:
“The degree to which I can create relationships which facilitate the growth of others is a measure of the growth I have achieved myself.”
Leadership then is seen as gathering & directing (gently) everyone’s energy and competence, via creating & authorizing ways to participate.
This starts with listening, then asking, then encouraging. This is closer to the loving parent image than the thou shalt/shall not’ aspect of a court of law.
The elements of this programme are, it is suggested, some of the characteristics of successful LSAs.
The programme in outline contains 9 elements – each leads to the next & connects with others.
1 Be happy, confident & relaxed in working the Divine system of Baha’i Administration.
2 Lovingly consult with every woman, man, Youth & child in the community to see how s/he would like to serve. Most have dreams of ways to serve – help the dreams to become realities.
3 Realize the benefit of uniting around simple, broad policies early in each year’s work.
4 Use the broad policies to provide everyone with a simple job description.
5 Trust & nurture the delegation of work, & diversity in ways of working.
6 Maintain in consultation the distinction between policy matters and execution of policy. Consciously avoid having ‘an eye for the inessential’. Identify, empower & encourage ‘critical success factors’.
7 See the work of the LSA as everyone’s successful action between meetings. Celebrate & further encourage small successes. Carry the news of successes to the Feast & the wider community.
8 Use meetings to serve each soul so as to enable her/him to further achieve her/his goals of service.
9 Having used the first one or two meetings to create (or review) broad polices, terms of reference &/or job descriptions spend time on a) hearing & celebrating accounts of progress, b) giving encouragement & constructive evaluation & c) negotiating further support and empowerment for/with individuals.
Why ‘broad policies? Because individual initiative and creativity are vital to the achievement of tasks. Top down prescription kills the energy of individual initiative and creativity.
Roger Prentice Burnlaw Version 28 as at 23.08.09
All communications from institutions, it is suggested, should explicitly and implicitly carry messages like these;
The ‘mystical bond as in, “Ye are the stars of the heaven of understanding, the breeze that stirreth at the break of day, the soft-flowing waters upon which must depend the very life of all men, the letters inscribed upon His sacred scroll. ” (Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings Pages 196-197)
“We love you, we are encouraging you – we stand ready to serve your needs.”
“We have taken the trouble to understand how you are already serving Bahá’u’lláh and how you further want to serve Him – and dedicate ourselves to supporting you.”
“I am not able to participate in much teaching work but I dedicate myself to not undermining, negating and rubbishing the work of those who are able to teach.”
“Even though the ways you have chosen to serve Bahá’u’lláh may not be the ways that members of the LSA choose, or are able, to serve we value equally the work you are doing and will do all in our power to support it.”
“We who are not able to do very much will strive to eliminate negativity and get behind those who are able to be active.”
“We care about you as a person and as a servant of Baha’ullah.”