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Excerpt from "The Lightworkers Circle Guide"

by Wendy Stokes

This is an extract from ‘The Lightworkers Circle Guide – A Workbook for Spiritual Groups’ a handbook which explains how to facilitate a circle for channeling advanced spirit guides for personal insight or societal change

There are many books and courses on the subject of leadership. Leadership cannot be learned from a book because it is an experiential skill but written information can provide guidance.

In our society, we have two approaches to our leaders, either we idolize them, or we reject them! Everyone wants to be a leader, but no-one wants to be led!

Though many would like to live without leaders, in reality, we can make no progress without them! A good leader’s job is broad and requires considerable sacrifice, expertise and dedication. If anyone thinks this work is easy, you will be convinced otherwise when you read the following list and award yourself marks for each skill! In a nutshell, the aim of a leader is task orientated and to further the group’s development - not their own.

Leadership needs to be conducted especially when the members are not receiving any insightful or useful messages. The position of team ‘leader’, in a small group is also that of manager, teacher, caretaker, facilitator, steward, mentor, guide and coach!

You can add to this impressive list of skills:

anticipating problems in advance; arbitrating between people; articulating what has not been spoken; assigning tasks; assisting others to get the best from their own talents; building strengths and confidence; chastising when appropriate; coaching; consoling; defining the indefinable; demonstrating skills; developing abilities and opportunities; eliminating hindrances; emphasizing and maximizing strengths; empowering and encouraging; ensuring safety; evaluating; focusing on tasks; identifying needs; imparting knowledge; implementing changes; increasing expertise, awareness and competency; listening; maintaining order, ethos, standards, values and boundaries; managing and mentoring; moderating during conflict; monitoring; motivating; negotiating; observing; organizing; preparing; preserving what is good; problem solving; protecting; recognizing opportunities and dangers; refereeing in arguments; reinforcing skills; reviewing; setting an example; supporting those in need; stabilizing the group; taking necessary decisions; and helping all members get the best from their communal activities.

Effective leaders lead by example and should be applauded for their capacity to fulfill many responsibilities with calmness and goodwill. Theirs is the most prominent position within the group, and therefore the leader is usually scrutinized and criticized more than any other member. A leader often suffers from the petty jealousies of others who do not wish for responsibility or commitment. A leader is usually held accountable when things go wrong, so it is not a role to envy!

A leader maintains the smooth running of meetings and implements changes in order to maintain good practice. A leader should facilitate, and stimulate an increase in the depth of work without pressurizing anyone. A leader often looks after organizational and planning matters, and is aware of spiritual influences and time factors. A leader also has responsibility for the cohesion and collaboration of the membership. Most leaders will fail at some stage to accomplish all these requirements and should be given support for their attempts to do the job to the best of their ability.

When a leader is ineffective, the members will suffer, and conflicts will arise and will result in members resigning. If a leader does not perform the tasks of leadership, any member can take the initiative and organize what needs to be done, not by being competitive, but co-operative.

In groups where no leader has been appointed, one usually emerges. Autocratic and self-serving styles of leadership are common in our society, and occur where one person manipulates or bullies everyone else, misusing power until resentful members rebel. Gentler members who are eager for progress end up carrying those who are overly ambitious for personal power - and are good at getting it. Resentment against self-centered leaders is therefore justifiable.

It is often difficult, without prior experience, to be a fair and aware, yet firm leader. The answer is in mutual negotiation, cooperation and initiative with the whole group building a strong multi-tasking team.

Small problems may seem nit-picking, but if one waits, it may be too late to restore stability. A good slogan is ‘small errors grow large’. Lack of quality leadership requires a change of leadership! Those who respond well to authority figures show a mark of emotional maturity. Lightworkers, such as ourselves, recognize the importance of inter-dependency and task sharing. We also appreciate that every member has something of value to offer. It is important to be able to feel comfortable in both roles; that of being led, and that of leader.

All parts make up the whole, and all parts are necessary and have their place. If there is personal incompatibility within the group, interpersonal issues can be resolved by examining what each person expects, needs and wants from the group, and from their leader. Each specific problem could be brought to Spirit for resolution through meditation and prayer for guidance. Adjustments to the method, style and content of the sessions may also be required.

Leadership is a position of service but because leaders usually do more work than anyone else does, they sometimes feel the post deserves some form of remuneration. The need for good leadership is present in all aspects of our life. In large groups, it is almost impossible to make consistent progress without a regular leader.

Most groups work through differences and difficult times, and successful leaders take the pressure off themselves by sharing their power intelligently with others. Small, leaderless groups particularly thrive on the basis of communal responsibility. Democratic leadership can only ensure power for the majority over the minority, even if the minority is one person and the majority, two. Where there is dissent, we aim at a win/win scenario, wherever possible.

Everyone can be pro-active and take initiatives on an equal basis with consideration to everyone, even those not present. Questions should be phrased; “Can I suggest…?”, “I would like…”, “I need…”, or “Shall I…?”

It is useful to bear in mind that hierarchies frequently abuse power. When this happens, people form alliances, and begin to enjoy competing, and will scapegoat vulnerable people in their midst. If an organization is corrupt at the top, it will, without doubt, be corrupt at the bottom! However, organizations that are wholesome at the top might still be corrupt at the bottom - unless

They have an adherence to rules and consistent monitoring of ethical standards. I mention this because every small group still has many of the problems associated with larger institutions. The ultimate aim of the Spirit based circle, and of life itself, is to increase our capacity to care for others and to develop our sense of responsibility to those in need.

If leadership is necessary, an alternative to autocratic leadership is that of rotational leadership as this gives everyone the chance to take this high profile position within the group. It is also beneficial if members voluntarily choose certain job responsibilities within the group.

When one person has held a key position for a given length of time, another should be appointed to keep the workload circulating, so that there is an opportunity to be involved with different activities.

Compromise and co-operation are vital parts of the learning process and sharing experiences are part of circle discipline. This type of service is a self-sacrifice that we offer to others on the same path as ourselves. There are ways of sharing responsibilities fairly, such as by volunteering, by random selection (either spinning a coin or drawing straws), by rote, or alphabetical order.

In emergencies, a majority vote can be taken. The circle is a combined venture and a valuable learning experience for everyone. There are many ways in which all members can be active and can add to their knowledge and skills. We are all responsible for creating the best group possible, and to be the best we can be within it. Whenever the circle functions badly, change is necessary. When all else fails, the old order should be disbanded and a new order formed of fresh, new members.

Wendy Stokes is the author of ‘The Lightworkers Circle Guide’ (ISBN: 978 1 84694 387 4published by O Books with permission and available on Amazon, ebay and from all good bookshops worldwide). The author can be contacted by email: w.stokes@btinternet.com and more information is available from her website: www.wendystokes.co.uk Her book royalties are donated to The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, an international charity which is celebrating 25 years of species protection in Madagascar: www.durrell.org  

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