The ABCD approach to Community Leadership
Inspired by Mike Green and Henry Moore
ABCD has a particular approach to “leadership” in community. It has been said that ABCD practitioners see through “rose coloured glasses” because it is believed we ignore the core issues and challenges.
We emphatically disagree; ABCD looks at the assets and strengths we have to address those issues and challenges.
What Mike and Henry talk about in regards to “Connector Leaders” is about finding those people in community who:
- Are already connected
- Have local knowledge
- Share local stories
Hanna Nel, one of ABCD’s most passionate friends, colleagues and university professor at Johannesburg University in South Africa writes,
“A comparison study was undertaken between the asset-based community-led development (ABCD) approaches versus the traditional needs-based approach to community development relating to community leadership. A purposive sampling technique was used to select 24 community projects in South Africa for the study, of which 14 were sensitised to ABCD and 10 were not. The kind of community leadership developed in ABCD communities enabled communities to lead their own development by co-investing their own assets, and leveraging their assets with resources from external agencies. In comparison, although development took place, the leadership that emerged in the needs-oriented projects was more authoritarian in nature, and in some instances, seemed to establish a dependency on external agencies. Community leadership that contributes to projects that were more driven by community members complements the principles of appreciative leadership, which were more evident in ABCD-sensitised communities.”
Hanna’s work, and the work of other ABCD practitioners and community members, supports connected leaders to share the power of community-driven work.
When we discover what people truly care about, enough to act on, we discover their motivation to act! Through Learning Conversations you can hear:
- Concerns – What I don’t want to happen
- Dreams – What I want to create
- Skills & Abilities – What I have to give
In summary, Connector Leaders:
- Are key to mobilising communities
- Have existing, strong relationships
- Bring community members together to act on what they care about
- Are not always who you would suspect
As Mike says, “Don’t go anywhere that nobody sent you! Well connected leaders can engage the wider community to act on what they care about!”