Nov 05 2008

Victories of the Heart: More Evidence of the Creation of Two Competing Leader Groups (Breakthrough & Widom years)

Published by at 6:49 pm under Counseling & Psychotherapy

In March of 2008, I was well into my conflicts with the original leaders. By now, I could see how they betrayed the 2004 Strategic Plan action plan regarding leadership development.

Here is the Leadership Development Action plan as written in the Strategic Plan report, our blueprint for creating change:

A. Develop policy and procedure that specifies a path for leadership training
B. Specify skills necessary for Heartwork facilitation, and initiate a forum for teaching those skills
C. Rethink the Spirit of Generosity program
D. Increase training for Keep-it-Up leaders
E. Ensure that the new model of leadership training allows for men to volunteer rather than just being chosen for that role
F. Evaluate the practice of maintaining fixed leadership teams versus mixing up the teams

Paul Kachoris volunteered to pursue this program with the Weekend Leadership Group.”

All those who ratified these Action plans understood the task was to develop an organizational infra-structure which could develop policies, procedures and programs to enable volunteer men to learn skills and evolve into leadership roles during weekends.

There is other language which stipulates that the weekend leader group of 8 would make final selections and vetos of new leaders.

This of course never happened.

It’s common group practice to try to get a buy in about group decisions. The six (not important, not doing anything leaders) were axed out of any investment in the Wisdom years group, and although there were several men who crossed boundaries, it was like two enemy camps.

As a Breakthrough weekend leader who had turned 50, I (and others) were constantly badgered about “doing the Wisdom years weekend.”

It was hyped as something we needed to do to become complete as human beings. I have no doubt these men were “encouraged” by the original leaders, as this was their style…have someone else, a strong man or therapy client agitate for something they in fact wanted.

At one point, I asked a man to stop talking to me about doing the weekend. It was rude and disrespectful.

And this was a man who I and the other 5 weekend leaders should have been in a position to select or veto for a leadership position.
Although I may have been the only one, I understood we had the challenge to create  unified policies, procedures, and programs for VOH leadership development.
The email I received from one of them illustrated that there were two different opinions.

My opinion was the original leaders bifurcated the leadership development process and, as a result, damaged the positive momentum of organizational develolpment after the 2004 Strategic Planning process.

Further, I believed and the email confirmed to me these original leaders saw the development of new leaders as a sort of competition between them and, perhaps, everyone else.

In the email, this leader states:

” Before we turned to adding potential leaders to the WY we spoke with Breakthrough leaders about bringing up new men into leadership – about succession – on several occasions…”

I was there, and my notes and the 2004 Action Plan from the Strategic plan clearly articulate the need for a leadership development program. The leader group of 8 (Bob, Buddy, Kurt, Paul, Kevin, Bill, Joe and Steve) were all working on it together.

This collaborative study and planning for a leadership development policies and procedures are documented by my May 2005 notes from the sub-committee of the larger weekend leader group of 8.

The original leaders were present when these ideas were presented and in fact it was one of those leaders who suggested the Breakthrough leaders jointly lead a weekend to share our ideas.

There was absolutely no discussion of that weekend leader group terminating, nor was there any permission asked for or given to the original leaders going out and selecting new “weekend” leaders for the Wisdom years and creating a competitive leader group some, who were virtual strangers to the rest of us.

What this leader writes to me next as an explanation reveals a lot about the underlying competition they felt with the rest of us.

He states:

” Before we turned to adding potential leaders to the WY we spoke with Breakthrough leaders about bringing up new men into leadership – about succession – on several occasions…”

then next:

“We certainly needed them to (developing new Breakthrough leaders) as we had been so out of the loop on Breakthrough participants that we couldn’t know who was appropriate.  Nothing was forthcoming – no shame, no blame, just a statement of fact (his words).  We knew that we were older and getting older and needed to begin our own succession plan.

Other men read this too, and whether they were incredulous or not is irrelevant.

I found it amazing for this leader to say “we needed the Breakthrough leaders to create a leadership development program and NOTHING WAS FORTHCOMING-NO SHAME, NO BLAME, JUST A STATEMENT OF FACT.”

Apparently, he did not see he and his leader partner as part of a process. He was sitting back and judging the other 6 leaders as not doing anything.

I don’t know how this could be true as he and his partner had a strongly negative opinion of moving away from the dyadic, two person leader teams. The debate was about 5 minutes long and the only discussion that weekend leader group had about this issue.

I also guess they read about the idea that leaders should be selected on merit by a collaborative Board/leader group.

Their betrayal of the unified weekend leader group of 8 leadership development process, whether deliberate or not, severely damaged the organizational development process.

It sent a clear message to self-respecting men on the Board that these leaders were either ignorant of the 2004 Strategic Plan’s action plans ratifed by Board and leaders or thought they were above any authority of the non-profit and could do just about anything they wanted.

People can deny this if they want, but after I resigned, most of the men from the Board also resigned. These were very successful men who donated time and money to help VOH evolve into a more mature successful organization.

What they got was original leaders doing whatever they wanted, including leading a group that wanted to secede from the organization and programs where tequila was poured on the genitals of men, nudity, body paint, dangerous objects, and extensive use of silence.

If they are reading this now, they also know the potential for leaders to get high and kill a pet rat and overt, virulent antsemitism was also what was happening behind the scenes.

The original leaders got what they wanted, but it failed to get them out of Oz to Boston.

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