Occupy: A Template for a New Kind of Leadership
In the early days of OWS, many media outlets quickly converged on Zuccotti Park to figure out who the real “leaders” of OWS were. (I know because I was often branded as one of them.)
As those of us living and working in the encampment knew, this effort was mostly fruitless because Occupy doesn’t have traditional leadership: hierarchical, top-down, representative and empowered. But it’s undeniable that there was some kind of leadership structure that existed even from the first moments of Occupy. What I will argue is that the structure was a new form of leadership to match the longings of a new generation of dreamers.
We wanted leaders that were:
- Accountable to us.
- Honest about who’s influencing them.
- Not reactionary, but thoughtful and bold.
- Diligent, get-shit-done types, 1-part-delegator-3-parts-do’er.
- Humble and honest, not ego-driven.
- Could balance consensus + autonomy without getting too mired in either
- Start an open collective, affinity group, Working Group, whatever.
- Be open, inviting, non-exclusionary.
- Build consensus. Slowly, or quickly, but intentionally.
- Don’t talk shit.
- Listen a lot.
- Don’t expect fame or glory. If you’re doing things right, you won’t get it. If you do, you won’t like it.
- When you get frustrated, take a break. Leave town for a few days. Don’t burn out.
- Don’t speak for the movement, speak WITH it.
- Make your intentions absolutely clear. And your actions. Report-back often to your group and to the broader community (GA).
- Have fun. Laugh. Don’t take yourself too seriously.