CHANGING OURSELVES IS BETTER THAN DEMANDING CHANGE FROM OTHERS

Our Better Way proposition:

The best starting point is what we ourselves can do, putting the common good first and our vested interests last. The more we achieve, the more others will follow.

Insights about our proposition...

‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world’.  This memorable phrase is often attributed to Ghandi. In fact there is no evidence he actually said this, although he did say something similar: ‘If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.’

The importance of leading by example is recognised in many leadership theories. To read more….

Of course changing ourselves is not the whole story, and wider social change requires a combination of factors.  To read more…

Traditional assumptions that the best leadership requires ‘born leaders’ with exceptional charismatic and heroic qualities still persist, but much modern evidence places a greater emphasis on context and suggests that distributed leadership models, where far more people participate in leadership roles, are most effective.  To read more…

The voluntary sector could be leading the way, but first it needs to change itself. To read more….

We want to generate more insights and examples about our propositions. Do please get in touch with any thoughts or additions. 

What Better Way members say

Caroline Slocock in her blog, "We are the leaders we've been waiting for," argues that we cannot wait for others to lead the way but must take the initiative ourselves, saying that leadership is all the better for being shared, pointing to changes that have been achieved in the past through collective leadership, such as the abolition of slavery.  Exercising this model of distributed leadership means sharing power as leaders with those who are sometimes treated simply as passive recipients of services, she adds.

At a Better Way cell discussion in London, it was argued that the currency of the voluntary sector, and indeed the Better Way network, is relationships, building trust amongst ourselves and with others that generates social capital, inspires innovative thinking and action and creates social value.  This way of operating runs counter to a tendency in current social policy and indeed in the voluntary sector to characterise its activities as addressing social problems - "doing to," rather than "doing with."

Kathy Evans in The Charity Times throws a challenge to the voluntary sector to go out and build greater trust within society by changing things for the better, against a background of what she calls an emerging "Trust Crash," rather than simply focusing inwardly on seeking to create greater trust in itself amongst the public.

In a discussion about co-production, another Better Way cell concluded that the essence of good co-production is about giving power to those who in the past have been seen as simply recipients, a massive shift away from command and control and a real challenge to traditional models of leadership.  One example given was a homeless charity no longer making a risk assessment of a homeless person but asking them "What do you want to do?"  One litmus test of real co-production would be who in the end decides, the "user" or the "producer" of services, where agreement cannot be reached.

Shaking things up a bit: some discussion points for a Better Way

What are we already doing which exemplifies the spirit of A Better Way?

What could we change in our own behaviours?

How could we encourage others to take leadership roles?

How could we use our own networks to stimulate change?

Do you have views on these questions – or are there other questions we should be asking?