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Movement Strategy/Recommendations/Iteration 3/Foster and Develop Distributed Leadership

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Foster and Develop Distributed Leadership
Connection to other recommendations
Connection to other recommendations

This recommendation proposes the idea of opening pathways for more diversity in those who lead our Movement. ‘Ensure Equity in Decision-Making’ and ‘Invest in Skills Development’ recommendations provide additional clarity on this.

In order to “become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge,” as a Movement, we must recognize and invest in current and future leadership development to ensure the Movement’s growth in an equitable and sustainable way across all communities. We envision a Movement built by qualified, well-trained, socially- and technically-skilled individuals from different backgrounds that reflect the diversity of the global communities.

To achieve this goal, we must train, support, and retain Movement leaders who reflect their local communities. Then, we need to actively recruit, encourage, and develop new leaders to ensure diversity and distribution of power in leadership positions. We also need to encourage each community to plan and allocate resources, tools, and information for fostering and developing leadership both at the local and global levels.[1]


Wikimedia leaders, who bring innovative ideas and methods into our systems, can be found across all corners of the globe. Fostering their leadership potential should be encouraged, as it is key for building a Movement that represents global diversity. People who are active participants in various regions know what works best in their socio-economic, political, and cultural contexts and are critical to the development of their communities.

To date, the Movement has not invested in formal training programs to develop leadership. This causes inequity in accessing leadership positions in the Movement and makes it difficult for individuals from underrepresented groups to occupy key strategic decision-making spaces.[2] New leaders bring a healthy rejuvenation to the Movement, prevent the concentration of power in few hands and burn out, and allow our leadership to become more diverse.[3]


To invest in and foster the future leadership of the Movement, we recommend an approach based on several actions and requirements. The development of distributed leadership must occur in contexts where stakeholders are responsible for determining the resources and tools needed, as well as for sharing and transferring knowledge and experience within the Movement. Utilizing the principle of subsidiarity, we can forge a diverse network of leaders ready to face both local and global challenges in the Movement.

As communities grow more complex, roles and responsibilities emerge, and a leadership development plan becomes necessary. A plan ensures there are pathways for future leaders and proposes methods to identify and promote new generations of leaders. It aims at creating a perspective that fits that particular community, encouraging its self-governance and ensuring self-determination. A leadership development plan should include an outline of roles as well as clarifying term limits and pathways for developing skills and experiences to serve their community and the Movement at large.

Fostering leadership also requires planning resources and bringing in new people that have skills, backgrounds, and experiences that are currently lacking in a particular context. The plan requires encompassing all the types of leadership support such as mentoring, peer-to-peer development, training events, tutorials on a knowledge management platform, etc.[4]

As an additional measure that could work in specific contexts, we envision the incorporation of coaches or trusted advisors, a new concept within the Wikimedia Movement. These would be independent contractors or Movement staff who would assist leaders across communities in identifying their needs and in finding proper ways to address them.[5] They are ideally from within (or have the trust to consult with people from within) the various communities and have an expertise that will assist in obtaining more contextualized development of and participation by community members.[6]

Leadership plans must set methods of ways to bring more diverse types of leadership and propose practical ways of ensuring our Movement’s leaders in all areas represent the diversity of the world’s population. Communities need to be able to receive adequate support and help from well-established structures if they wish to create such a plan, as well as with proper execution of its stipulations.[7]

Expected outcomes
  • Evaluate necessary leadership skills and create a systematic, globally-coordinated leadership development plan to empower and enrich communities throughout the Movement.[8]
  • Provide training options at the local level to allow individuals to acquire leadership skills relevant to their communities.[9]
  • Empower a network of Movement leaders that reflect the diverse communities for which we strive. Individuals from previously underrepresented groups should be actively sought, encouraged, listened to, and supported to move to positions of leadership.[10]
  • Develop a Movement-wide platform for knowledge management to facilitate the transfer of knowledge concerning leadership at a global and local level.[11]