Often, people who want to make social change think of themselves as leaders, or are referred to as leaders by others. In many senses, doing working together in communities does require leadership. However, most people’s model of leadership comes from hierarchical communities where leaders have power over others. This kind of leadership is counterproductive for working together with your community (and also causes problems in other contexts!). In community mobilization, leadership encourages working with other people and taking responsibility for ensuring that everyone can be a leader.

Mozynah Nofal is a graduate student, and has worked to support refugee communities in Lebanon, Turkey, and Canada, as well as internally displaced communities in Syria. In this video, she discusses how she learned new ways of being a leader through working together with others.

Video Transcript

Chris Dixon, an American-Canadian activist and scholar, identifies three key principles of anti-authoritarian leadership. Leadership roles in these organizations should be clear, meaning everyone should know who actually holds leadership; choices about leadership should be conscious, meaning that we should think about and plan who holds what form of leadership and for what purpose; and leadership should be collective, divided among people and changing to reflect how circumstances have changed. (Link)

In this video, you will hear from Mohamad Rabah and Louay Misleh, two members of Bait Byout, talk about how their group practices this form of leadership. Bait Byout is a LARP (live action role play) group based in Ramallah, Palestine, which uses play and creativity to explore social issues and mobilize people to think differently about their situation, as well as to reclaim play and leisure in the context of the occupation. Both Muhammad and Louay discuss the way that leadership works in Bayt Byout.

Bait Byout

Birth of Larp in the Arab World

Video Transcript 

In your e-Portfolio diary, answer these questions:

  • In a group you are part of, what sorts of leadership roles do you take on?
  • What are some other roles that other people have?
  • How are people supported in developing their leadership capacities?
  • Thinking about a group you’re a part of, do leadership roles in that group seem to be clear, conscious, and collective?
  • How might you may them clearer, more conscious, and more collective?
  • Are there other important elements of what make those leadership roles helpful or unhelpful?