Dirigentes

Leadership in A.A.:  Ever a Vital Need

(Excerpts from Bill W.’s article in the April 1959 Grapevine.  See Concept IX, page 36 of “Twelve Concepts for World Service” for the full article.)

Somewhere in our literature there is a statement to this effect: “Out leaders do not drive by mandate: they lead by example.”  In effect, we are saying to them, “Act for us, but don’t boss us.”…

Therefore, a leader in A.A. service is a man (or woman) who can personally put principles, plans, and policies into such dedicated and effective action that the rest of us want to back him up and help him with his job.  When a leader power-drives us badly, we rebel; but when he too meekly becomes an order-taker and he exercises no judgement of his own – well, he really isn’t a leader at all …

Good leadership originates plans, policies, and ideas for the improvement of our Fellowship and its service.  But in new and important matters, it will nevertheless consult widely before taking decisions and actions.  Good leadership will also remember that a fine plan or idea can come from anybody, anywhere.  Consequently, good leadership will often discard its own cherished plans for others that are better, and it will give credit to the source …

Good leadership never passes the buck.  Once assured that it has, or can obtain, sufficient general backing, it freely takes decisions and puts them into action forthwith, provided, of course, that such action be within the framework of its defined authority and responsibility …

Another qualification for leadership is give-and-take, the ability to compromise cheerfully whenever a proper compromise can cause a situation to progress in what appears to be the right direction.  Compromise comes hard to us all-or-nothing drunks.  Nevertheless, we must never lose sight of the fact that progress is nearly always characterized by a series of improving compromises.  We cannot, however, compromise always.  Now and then, it is truly necessary to stick flat-footed to one’s conviction about an issue until it is settled.  These are situations for keen timing and careful discrimination as to which course to take …

Leadership is often called upon to face heavy and sometimes long-continued criticism.  This is an acid test.  There are always the constructive critics, our friends indeed.  We ought never fail to give them a careful hearing.  We should be willing to let them modify our opinions or change them completely.  Often, too, we shall have to disagree and then stand fast without losing their friendship.

Copyright © by AA Grapevine, Inc.; excerpted with permission.

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