I keep thinking about the question of group quality. What leads to group failure and members losing money? Sometimes it’s not-so-good training, but sometimes, even if we do a great job training, we may train people in the wrong practices.
One of the practices that I am suspicious of is annual elections. What message does it send to group members to tell them to elect leaders for a year? In particular, what message does that send to group members in countries where elected officials regularly abuse their power and become wealthy? Many groups end up with presidents-for-life, a practice that works about as well in savings groups as it does in politics.
I was just writing to a new friend who works with ACAF, the European savings group movement that has totally different origins than the VSLA-oriented groups that most readers are familiar with. ACAF groups have rotating leadership, and so did the group I was a member of in Portland Oregon, the Rosecity Rainmakers. In the Quality of Delivery Study in Kenya, group Chairpeople were disproportionately male. Is that something we want to encourage?
Why not rotate the leadership frequently? Let one person be chairperson or president or whatever you call it for a month, and then choose another. Same for record keepers and so on. The advantages of sharing the experience and skills of leadership seem clear, and it is harder to abuse a position when it is simply your brief turn to hold it.
Do any readers have experience with rotating leadership in Savings Groups? Would you share it? Either comment below, or send me a message by clicking here.
Originally published 1 May 2014 by Paul Rippey
Reader Comments (2)
In our groups, we encourage 3 month reviews on the management committee-with the intention of replacing a person if they aren't working out. And while this is a nice idea, it typically isn't put into practice for a variety of reasons, or it is treated with lip service only. One of the reasons is that, at least in my humble opinion, if people aren't happy with a leader, they are hesitant to be honest about it in front of that person. And sometimes, reasons for wanting to replace a chairperson aren't good ones; i.e. the chairperson actually holds people accountable and being held accountable is sometimes uncomfortable - especially when you'd rather blame someone else than look to yourself!
I'm going to propose this idea of revolving leadership and will update you with how staff and groups members respond to it.
Thu, May 1, 2014 | Jill Thompson
My staff really likes the idea, so we are going to try it in our next round of SG mobilization and training last this year and early next year......stay tuned.
Fri, May 23, 2014 | Jill Thompson