Leadership Development Working Group/Purpose and Structure

1. Why create a working group? Why now?

According to the Movement Strategy Capacity Building working group, the creation of a community-driven unit can ensure that leadership development activities are “developed according to the Movement Strategy recommendations, sustained over the long-term, continuously evaluated and improved with impact for the communities and the strategic direction in mind.”

The Community Development team recognizes that there is a lot of ongoing work about movement governance and decision-making, including the framing document of the Movement Charter. Eventually this working group may be altered or replaced once a constituted Global Council is in position to determine best approaches to these issues. However, there is ongoing work now, and the Community Development team believes that a working group would provide important guidance not only to its work but also, as desired, to community groups. It will allow us all to do better work now while the long-term processes and pathways are being defined.

A Leadership Development Working Group promotes equitable decision making. It would create a forum -- a community of practice and center of knowledge and experience. This working group would, as appropriate, receive decision-making power once resource allocation and other aspects of decentralization and sharing power are determined. The working group would produce recommendations, guidelines, and proposals. This proposal for a working group recognizes that there is groundwork that still needs to be done for implementation initiatives to succeed. This includes having a shared definition of leadership and creating a leadership development plan. This plan answers important questions such as: who is responsible for leadership development? What are the priorities? And what support systems are in place for leaders?

2. What will the working group do?

This is a proposal made by Community Development based on conducting a review of past research and conversations.[1] Once the working group begins its work, it will review the proposed tasks and make any changes as necessary.

A. Draft a shared definition of leadership


Why does the movement need a shared definition of leadership?

  • Right now, there are frequent misunderstandings about the word "leader" and what model supports "leadership" capacity growth in communities[2]
  • Not having a shared definition of “leader” and “leadership” can cause misunderstandings

What could drafting a shared definition involve?

  • Creating a taxonomy or glossary that includes defining leadership types, core leadership skills, and leadership pathways
  • Raising awareness about the definition to ensure different cultural contexts share the same understanding of leadership[3]
  • Helping to cultivate communities of volunteers who are interested in leadership - either as potential leaders, existing leaders, or leader developers[3]

What needs to be defined?

  • Leader: what is a useful definition of “leader” in the Wikimedia context?[4][5]
  • Good leadership: what is a good leader?
  • Leadership skills: what are the skills, qualities, and/or values of leaders?
  • Leadership pathways: what leadership pathways or roles exist in the movement? Which leadership pathways need to be created? Which leadership pathways need to be named and recognized?

What happens with this draft?

  • The draft definition will be placed on Meta-wiki and open for review and refinement. It will guide the Community Development team in its work. It can also be used by community groups

B. Create a Leadership Development Plan


Why does the movement need a leadership development plan?

  • Leaders are considered a key success factor for any project. Our movement has not had a unified structure for systematically building leadership skills and cultivating new community leaders[6]

What could a leadership development plan include? (This is not a complete list.)

  • Goals and vision: what is the direction and outcome for leadership development? What are concrete goals, both qualitative and quantitative?
  • Roles and responsibilities: who is responsible for developing, funding, supporting, and evaluating leaders? From where and who can form initiatives?
  • Access to leadership roles or pathways: how are leaders encouraged and identified as leaders? How do people access leadership roles or pathways? How can more diverse leadership be encouraged?
  • Valuing leaders: how do leaders know they are valued? What are the benefits of leading? [7][8][9] 
  • Identifying leadership skill needs and assets: how can needs assessments be conducted to identify what leadership skills are needed?[10] How can existing leadership development assets be collected and shared?[11][12][13]
  • Approach to leadership development: do different types of leaders need different forms of support? Who should be taught leadership skills? [14] What methods can be used to develop leaders?[15][16]
  • Evaluation: how and when can successful leadership development be measured?[17]
  • Support systems: what kind of support are leaders given? How can the long-term sustainability of leaders be supported?
  • Newcomers: how are newcomers encouraged to discover and consider leadership paths in the movement?
  • Funding: how can leadership development be supported? What are funds best used for?
  • Priorities and roll-out: What are the “core” leadership capacities?[18] How are multiple initiatives evaluated in order to prioritize or share limited resources? What leadership development initiatives are prioritized? How does this prioritization differ across contexts? What might a prioritized list of leadership development investments look like for a region or context?

C. Guide the implementation of leadership development


After drafting the leadership development plan, the working group will change its focus to implementation. This will include advising and evaluating implementation done by the Wikimedia Foundation and may extend to an advisory role for volunteer working groups and affiliates.

At this stage, working group force could decide to execute parts of the leadership development priorities. Examples of the working group's work might include:

  • Conducting global/local needs assessments to understand the leadership skills gaps
  • Creating and maintaining a central database of existing resources
  • Creating programs: mentorship programs, training programs, tech platforms
  • Providing resources (documentation, network connections etc.) to an affiliate who is interested in providing local leadership training or helping them understand grants processes available

3. How is the working group formed and structured?

A. Composition of the working group

  • Up to 12 members. A group this size can work effectively and efficiently. Total size may be based on interest by qualified individuals
  • Members will be a mix of individual volunteers, affiliate volunteers/staff, and Wikimedia Foundation staff (Wikimedia Foundation staff representation will be one person from the Community Development team)
  • Aiming for at least one person from each of the regions: Middle East and Africa; South Asia; East, Southeast Asia and Pacific (ESEAP); Latin America (LATAM) and The Caribbean; United States and Canada; Northern and Western Europe; Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Central Asia
  • Aiming for a diverse group across several parameters:
    • Language
    • Gender
    • Emerging communities / established communities
    • Wiki projects
    • Voices that are not yet included in discussions
    • Current and past roles in the organization or community (contributor, functionary, board, staff, committee etc.)* Once the working group is formed, the group has the flexibility to determine how they will work together. This can, for example, include forming regional or language sub-groups

B. Skills and experience of members

  • Members will have working knowledge and experience with capacity building and leadership development. This experience can be from inside or outside the movement. Roles that members may have held previously (formally or informally) include: trainer, learning designer, facilitator, organizer, coach, mentor, educator, or leader
  • Strong interest in people development, movement sustainability and growth, and strategic planning
  • Reliable, responsive, and committed
  • Effective communication and collaboration skills
  • Ability to work in a cross-cultural, group-work setting
  • Language: members do not need to speak English fluently. Translation support can be provided on an as-needed basis

C. Term limit & time commitment

  • Working Group work will begin in approximately May 2022
  • The time commitment is approximately 5 hours per week (this includes the live meetings and asynchronous work); time commitment can fluctuate from week to week depending on the stage of the process
  • Term limits will be 1 year each with the option to re-apply. This term limit is set to allow people to exit and avoid burnout

D. Role & responsibilities

  • The working group will act as a working group and an advisory committee. The working group is responsible for coming up with ideas, drafting a plan, executing on agreed tasks, and any other required work
  • The Community Development team will support the working group by providing a facilitator, translation support, documentation support, and skill development opportunities. The Community Development team is a supporter and enabler, rather than decision-maker and developer

E. Selection of members

  • Process
    • An application process will be used. Interested and qualified community members are invited to apply
    • Applications will be reviewed and scored anonymously by a panel including Wikimedia Foundation staff with a background in learning or leadership development and volunteers with experience in this work. The members of the panel will be publicly identified. The application review panel members are:
  • Criteria for selecting members
    • Skills and experience: have background and competency in capacity building and leadership development as well as other qualities stated earlier
    • Motivation: demonstration of a clear reason for joining the working group
    • Commitment: ability to practically, mentally, and emotionally commit the time and effort to the work for a 1-year term
    • Self-awareness: ability to reflect on their motivations, strengths, and challenges
    • Diversity: representation in language, gender, region, experience, movement role and community
    • Individuals under active sanctions by the Wikimedia Foundation or any Wikimedia community are not eligible. Sanctions would include bans (full or partial) or active blocks (full or partial). Prior sanctions and warnings are not a barrier to consideration
  • Selection timeline
    • March - April 2022: call for application
    • April 2022: applications reviewed anonymously by a panel
    • Early May 2022: working group announced
    • Late May 2022: working group begins work

F. Benefits and stipend

  • Stipend of $100 every 2 months to offset costs of participation. Stipends can be used to pay for childcare, internet, transportation and other costs that make volunteering possible
  • Skill development opportunities: working group members will have access to skill building opportunities, including training on topics such as conflict transformation and nonviolent communication. Through their work on the working group, members will also learn (by doing) about group collaboration processes

G. Working process

  • The working group will work in sprints. This involves developing work in small increments and making frequent changes based on feedback
  • The working group will be supported by a facilitator to support collaboration, decision making, and process management
  • The working group will be gathering community feedback throughout its working period to ensure more voices are included. This acknowledges that a relatively small group of community members cannot represent the entire movement

H. Support for working group

  • Facilitation: the working group will have a facilitator who will support the group in smooth collaboration, decision making, process design, and project management
  • Documentation: the facilitator and the Community Development team will support the group in documenting its work
  • Translation: simultaneous and/or written translation will be provided on an as-needed basis
  • Coordination and communication: the Community Development team and Movement Strategy & Governance team will provide any coordination, outreach, and communication support
  • Skill development: training on relevant skills will be provided