Mapping Community Strengths and Assets
Taking a strengths-based approach is one of the core principles of community-led development. This resource describes how to take a strength- or asset-based approach and is a useful tool to help explore and capture the gifts, talents and strengths in your community.
Tensions, Learning and Adaptation
Leaders can help create and model a non-defensive climate of learning, reflection and inquiry where people can give and receive feedback and find a way forward. Effective leaders take time to reflect on their own thoughts, assumptions, feelings and behaviours. This allows them to understand the part they can play, and what is beyond their control or is not a priority to try to change right now.
The Leadership as Learning Framework describes four interwoven dimensions of change: personal, relational, structural and cultural. These are also identified in our Quadrants of Change framework as important areas to pay attention to if we want to impact and sustain transformation in communities.
Leadership is a bit like riding a surfboard on an always moving sea. Sometimes the tides ebb and flow gently and simple habits like being open to feedback help us re-balance. We can go from vulnerable “I don’t know” moments back to our strong selves with relative ease. Other times, bigger waves dump us into stormier waters. Rip-currents might even push us towards the edge of chaos. We come up against the darker sides, the challenges, the not so helpful behaviours, attitudes, and ways of thinking and acting. To escape from drowning in rip-currents we have to swim in not so obvious directions, finding our inner strengths and other resources around us, to come up with responses that we may never have thought of before. While it’s not a comfortable place to be in, the collision of these lighter and darker sides actually provides a creative space for innovation, learning and dynamic change.
The centre column of the Leadership as Learning framework reminds us of some of the resources we can draw on to lead us through the normal tides, waves and rip-currents of community leadership. The inner two columns on either side of the centre show some of the constructive leadership behaviours, attitudes and actions we can apply in the normal movements of the regular tides. These might look like polar opposites, but each has their time, place and use.
The outer two columns identify more destructive responses that can happen if we take positive leadership responses to any extreme. For example, the dark side of being strong can be a big, controlling ego; the dark side of vulnerable can be paralysing self-doubt. The framework encourages us to not get stuck in any one place but to see this as a sea that needs to keep moving to stay alive, learning, growing and innovating. As leaders, that means being aware and constantly adapting to what’s needed for each new wave or situation.
Let’s take a brief look at each of these four layers, helping you explore this framework with some reflective questions about what you can do to grow:
- your own leadership
- the leadership of others around you
- the leadership of organisations you work in
- the leadership of communities you live and work in
Each section includes a fictional story to illustrate the ideas offered. You can also read some of our Inspiring stories that highlight the many amazing things that communities are already doing.
Here we try to unpack some of the back story of the leadership challenges and responses that often sit behind such fantastic results. We hope these stories and ideas will support you to work with the complexities and messiness of CLD work and encourage you to hang in there to make things happen.
How to bring the community together to plan
Learn how to plan a successful Community Hui – use our event planning guide to attract your people, develop your event’s purpose and integrate the right processes for success.
How to organise and facilitate a successful community visioning hui.
Working with Tāngata Whenua
Relationship-building between tāngata whenua (people of the land) and tāngata tiriti (all others who have come here) organisations, groups and communities is a core component of Community-Led Development in Aotearoa. The following resource provides three different tools to support communities in developing relationships with tāngata whenua.
Inspiring Communities is committed to a Treaty-honouring Aotearoa in which people actively participate in shaping their communities. Here’s some information on Our Engagement with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
A stakeholder is any person or organisation that has an interest or influence in what you want to achieve. Once you have identified your purpose or outcome, it’s useful to think about who might be useful to engage with to support to support your community-led change efforts.
So let’s get started
There are many different ways that stakeholder mapping can be approached. They generally involve a mix of:
Levels of stakeholder participation and collaboration
Stakeholders can collaborate with you at varying levels. Some will want to be more involved than others.
A final check
- Are these stakeholders reflected in your stakeholder scan? How?
- Who else might have a stake in the outcomes but not have influence, money or an initial desire to be involved?
- What else can you do to engage with and involve them?
Being an Effective Supporter of CLD
Engaging in and with communities requires mindfulness and good preparation around the why, who and especially the how. Those who engage as ‘experts’ are more likely to be met with suspicion and mistrust. Someone who engages from a place of learning, inquiry, curiosity, facilitation, humility, and relationship is more likely to be welcomed. You might have some expertise, but locals are “context experts” who know stuff about this place that you don’t.
The resource below contains some useful reminders about what matters when we show up in communities as an outsider wanting to help, or having been asked to help. Even if we are an insider, these rules will still usually apply.
The Working Together Continuum
Understanding different kinds of working relationships is crucial to getting the most out of key stakeholders within your community. From local government, to businesses, to residents, to funders and everyone in between, having an understanding of the types of working relationships you’re likely to encounter – and which ones you will strive to have – will only strengthen your ability to connect with people community-wide.
This explanatory document will introduce you to the types of relationships and their characteristics and allow you to constructively plan ways of communicating and bringing people together to work within these relationship types. It might also encourage you to move a working relationship along the continuum, because it’s important to note that partnering isn’t necessarily the ultimate goal for every relationship.
Also, this worksheet may be useful to print and use in mapping out current and intended relationships.
Questioning our Leadership Assumptions
What words or images immediately come to mind when you think about leadership?
Strong? Decisive? Heroic? Visionary? Charismatic? Great communicators? Courageous?
We can quickly end up with a super-human job description for leaders that then feels out of reach for most of us. Yet for each of the words or images you identified about leadership and leaders’ qualities, skills, behaviours and attitudes, the opposite is also likely to be true.
For example, it’s great when those in leadership roles can:
- have a strong sense of self and show and cope with being vulnerable too
- offer decisive answers and also know when it is better to ask powerful questions to help a group find answers together
- inspire people with their own vision and be a good facilitator, helping everyone’s voice to be heard in shaping a shared vision
- lead out front at times and be quiet nurturers of others, leading by walking alongside or behind, at other times
- be great communicators and great listeners
- be courageous in their actions and humble in their reflections
- help put plans, structures and systems in place and be comfortable working in situations that call for more organic, messy, one-step-at-a-time approaches.
So we can relax about what we expect leaders to know or be or do! From a CLD perspective, our aim is to grow a “leaderful” community, where people keep moving between different leadership roles depending on the situation. There are many different ways of ‘doing’ leadership. And the best leaders keep adapting their responses, based on what they are noticing is happening in the community around them.
Some final questions
- What draws you to contributing as an active citizen in your community?
- What, if anything, holds you back?
- If you could lead and contribute in whatever way felt right for you, what would you like to do?
- What’s one step, however small, that you could take this month to help make that possible?
From service delivery to being of service in place
Article prepared by Inspiring Communities’ Barbara MacLennan, February 2016.
Primary health, social and education services are the focus for Tipu Ora in Rotorua. With its home base in the beautiful village of Ohinemutu, the reach and credibility of the organisation has grown each year since being founded around three decades ago.
In a conversation with Tipu Ora Executive Manager Raewyn Bourne and Clinical Co-ordinator Evalyn Berryman, Inspiring Communites’s Barbara MacLennan learned about Kia Puawai, a new place based approach which the Trust began two years ago.
“While our funding streams all still come in silos, we’ve been working hard to integrate all the services and supports we can offer in ways that serve our community much more effectively” said Raewyn.
When statistical analysis was used to identify the best ‘fit’ for targetting new funding contracts to support populations with high birth rates and vulnerable children, Rotorua’s Western suburbs showed up as an area for attention. “We decided that instead of expecting people to come to us, or us to go to families one by one, we should actually locate ourselves in that community, and see what we could learn from working in that way.”
Three months of conversations with local community leaders created goodwill and the opportunity to locate in a building adjacent to the community health centre and other community services. Evalyn explains it was important to create an environment where whanau feel comfortable and safe, this is their home away from home. “Māori values guide this, our whare (house) kuia (nanny) role is to manaaki and awhi clients and their significant others. We build trust with whanau by listening, being consistent and transparent.” This approach appears to be working as the majority of self-referrals to the service are recommendations from friends and or whānau who have shared their own experiences accessing this service.
Raewyn describes the preparation of the new facility for opening as taking “a country mile of goodwill” from local organisations and people. She acknowledges it wasn’t all rosy at the start. A few organisations and services who are funded to work with the same populations were a bit resistant, and it took a while for both they and Kia Puawai to figure out how to ‘fit’ together well with community interests at heart. “Relationships are much better now” says Raewyn. “It’s about focussing on goals and aspirations we share, and creating systems and ways of working together that really help us keep connected, specially with the people and community we serve. In retrospect we would do some things differently in that phase of getting started, but we just had to give it a go and be brave!”
Raewyn and Evalyn talk about the enormous benefits of being located in a neighbourhood, and having a whole wealth of expertise across Tipu Ora which could be called on as needed. “Only a few of our Team are based in Western Heights every day, but our whole organisation is effectively available, and is learning from the experience.”
A lot of the work focuses on young and first time parents and includes mothercraft and homecraft programmes. “It’s great to see a young māmā whose own confidence has grown come back to the whare to help teach pregnant and other first time mums how to bathe their pēpe or share her experience of breastfeeding,” Evalyn shares. “Our Kia Puawai whare makes that possible”.
Being community-based, and well networked with other agencies serving the Western Suburbs enhances the possibility of being able to find and connect with vulnerable people and families. “It’s hard work. There’s no doubt that some just don’t want to be connected because of their own past experiences, or who they are associating with. But our chances are so much higher when we are actually there, and part of the local community fabric too. These babies and children are all of our responsibility, and the sooner we can awhi them and their whānau, and wrap the right guidance, information and support around them, the better.”
More information on Tipu Ora.