Jump to content

Movement Strategy/Recommendations/Iteration 2/Community Health/3

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

Building the leadership of the future


Q 1 What is your Recommendation?


The cornerstone of a healthy community is a diverse, well-trained, and supported group of leaders. To facilitate and reinforce such leadership in the Wikimedia communities, we recommend:

  • Communities and affiliates should define which skills are essential for individuals to be able to fulfill leadership roles, and define which of these skills are mandatory
  • Training options should be made available and accessible at the local level to the existing and the potential future leadership to allow individuals to acquire leadership skills relevant to their communities.
  • A movement wide platform for knowledge management should be established to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and experience concerning leadership within/between communities at the global and local level. This platform will also be a platform for peer-exchange between leaders, as well as contributing to the development of global leadership
  • Established and mature affiliates will play a key role in a decentralised structure of leadership development, taking a role in sharing knowledge and experiences with emerging affiliates
  • Across the movement, Individuals from previously underrepresented groups should be actively encouraged and supported to move to positions of leadership
  • To make room for new leadership to regularly come through, prevent accumulation of power in the hands of the few, and reduce the risk of volunteer burnout term limits and/or mandatory sabbaticals should be introduced for all functionaries within[1] Wikimedia communities (further elaborated in recommendations ‘power structures’ and ‘leadership’).

Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?


Realising the Strategic Direction will place demands on the knowledge, dedication and resilience of our leadership. We need well-prepared leaders that reflect both their local communities and the changing world at all levels of our projects and ecosystem.

Leaders will need to come from diverse backgrounds in order to widen our view of the world and make us aware of issues and solutions that might be ignored otherwise. The leadership should reflect the more diverse communities we strive for and be the embodiment of our values and culture. These leaders also need to build an inclusive global community that tackles the challenges we all face together, leading the way in their region and co-operating on a global level to constantly challenge and improve the way we work.

Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?


Recruitment and development of leaders requires resources, planning and support both at the local and the global level. Although leaders are considered a key success factor for any project, our movement has not had a unified structure for dealing with community leadership. Even more than now, the roles and tasks of leaders in the future movement will be challenging. Future leaders will need to have excellent social skills as well as technical knowledge. Training -either voluntary or mandatory depending on the importance of the role - will be key, and has been sought by admins (see Preliminary Report of Admin Confidence Survey), discussed during the ESEAP Strategy Summit and recommended by CHWG survey participants. Access to resources, tools and information will support leaders in their role and platforms will allow them to exchange experiences, both at the local and the global level.

A steady influx of new leaders and a healthy level of rejuvenation will be essential. This will address the frequently reported concentration of power in the hands of a select group within communities and will allow the leadership to become broader and more diverse. Term limits and sabbaticals will enable communities to periodically re-confirm that local functionaries are still in sync with the people and project(s) they serve and will provide opportunities for new generations of leaders to come through.

Within the movement, established and mature affiliates have gathered considerable experience in leadership. This is a resource that can and should be more widely shared within the movement.

Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?

  • More diverse leadership, equipped for their roles in the movement of 2030. They will be at the forefront of introducing new tools and features to make life easier for users and readers, leading the change management necessary to build consensus.
  • Easy access for local communities to socially and culturally relevant resources, tools and expertise concerning leadership. Communities will have facilities to train their leadership to address opportunities and problems (for example in relation to openness and inclusivity, conflict solving, etc.) of the respective community.
  • Established affiliates will form a regionalised training network that in a spirit of partnership and equality offers support to those affiliates that require it, and on the international level, support processes necessary to govern the global community in such a way as to bring about the leadership change needed to meet our strategic goals.

Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?

  • Current leaders of communities and affiliates.
  • Members of communities and affiliates.
  • WMF

Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?


Current leaders may resist the changes because it might threaten their standing in their community. Community members may see the proposed changes as outside top down interference and may think the foundation aims to become more involved in their local work, or that members of their community are being trained to apply a certain way of thinking to that community. WMF may resist a stronger role by local affiliates in leadership development and who will influence and lead the global community in a way that currently is partially done by the WMF.

Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?

  • Change management. Implement the changes in a way that is sensitive to social and cultural context of communities. Including developing an understanding of how the different types of stakeholders and their expectations might require different types of leadership based on social circumstances, and was discussed during Community Conversations in May 2019.
  • Place a higher priority on leadership development and demonstrate that a healthy community also has a heavily involved leadership.
  • There should be a means to access newly recognized affiliates to trigger the leadership training at the first phases (i.e. of the main guidance topics).
  • One suggestion that came up at Wikimania for the CEE region was to establish a group of representatives for each community who have the responsibility to involve themselves internationally and take issues from the wider movement back to their communities to discuss.

Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality?


Some aspects of this recommendation concerning training currently exist, e.g. Learning Days, Train-the-Trainers, Bootcamp, board training before/after the Wikimedia summit and at regional conferences like the CEE meeting, yet not everyone benefits from these aspects due to unavailability and inaccessibility.

Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?

  • Conflict prevention/resolution - one of the main topics leaders should be trained and supported on.
  • Building an inclusive global community - which involves wise leadership.
  • Redefining power structures

Q 6-2 Does this Recommendation connect or relate to your Scoping Questions? If yes, how?

  • Yes. Our scoping questions and responses have identified leadership skill deficiencies in strategic planning, change management, knowledge sharing, listening, conflict solving and emotional intelligence. These components would be primary target areas for training in the Leadership Hub.
  • In addition, we have identified the largest leadership skills gaps as being: selection, development, and reward practices; resistance to changing leadership styles; underinvestment in leadership development; and current organizational challenges require a different leadership style.
  • The largest skills gaps appear to be: unpredictable events; reduced volunteer tenure in leadership positions; aging volunteer cadre; emergence of Generation Y/Millennial cadre.

Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?

  • R&R: Redefining power structures, highlighting the main responsibilities of leaders with definitions of how to activate such responsibilities.
  • Diversity
  • Partnerships: Redefining power structures
  • Capacity Building
  • Resource Allocation
  • Technology: Privacy and security for everyone, Equitable Technologies, tools that allows leaders implement their responsibilities smoothly and in a unified way
  • Advocacy: Reduce barriers

Q 8 Do you have anything to add that was not covered with previous questions, yet essential for understanding the recommendation?

  • Self-care resources for leaders, admins, etc.