Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.
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The Need for a Vanguard
I went down to Dumfries the other day to talk to a group of people from various agencies about the Vanguard Programme. There are a number of people there who are really interested in attending and they understand the importance of sending enough people from the Council and related bodies so that they can really begin to lever change.
In fact, during the meeting one of the women there recounted something which confirmed a belief I’ve had for a long time. She said that they had invested in a considerable amount of training for leaders in the work of Stephen Covey and his best-selling books “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Principled Centred Leadership”. However, while people really liked the course, and got a lot out of it, when they went back to work they found it difficult to keep up the momentum and put anything into practice. She said it was as if they were waiting for others to make it happen. A similar point was made to me a couple of weeks ago. This time it was an English woman who is now working in health care in Edinburgh. She said that one of the big differences she perceived between England and Scotland is that Scots working in the organisations she deals with often want to be told what to do. If you give them very broad guidance they’ll come back at you and want a detailed set of instructions. She said that her English colleagues would have taken a very dim view if they had been given detailed instructions of what needed to be done.
Some of the explanation of this can be found in Covey’s work. He says that in relations with others there are three states – dependence, independence and interdependence. He is very big on people getting to interdependence – the sense of working with other people to achieve collective goals. Indeed one of Covey’s 7 habits is thinking about win-win solutions to problems. But Covey also says that it is not possible to go from dependence on others (over concern with approval and what people think of you, for example) to interdependence without being able to function independently of others. This is a state where we are driven by our principles and sense of personal integrity. I’ve always felt that the inadequacy of Covey’s work for most Scots is that it assumes that people are already functioning as independent-minded individuals and that the challenge for them is to get past this to working co-operatively and interdependently. But as someone who has worked in Scottish organisations for years on development issues I often think there isn’t enough independent action and too much concern for the approval of other people, or being told what to do to avoid responsibility. In such an atmosphere it is the lowest common denominator which prevails.
So to get out of this and really start addressing some of the need for change in Scotland I think we need to get lots of people involved at the same time in development issues. Even if we could get a lot of people involved in making some small personal changes I think it would be enough to start feeling that something was beginning to tip and change inevitable.
It is the need for change at a mass level that had led the Centre to concentrate on activities, such as the Vanguard Programme, which are high-profile and involve lots of participants. I’m sure that we will also make most progress if we can get organisations or geographical areas where there are clusters of people who take part rather than just a couple of people from lots of different organisations across Scotland. Now before anyone points out to me that the Vanguard Programme is not designed for the masses as it is expensive and intellectual, I agree. The Vanguard has been designed as an in-depth course which will provide the intellectual rationale for future, more popular activities, which will involve the man and woman in the street. And areas, like Dumfries, which have a cadre of interested, committed professionals who have been introduced to these new ideas will truly be in the vanguard of the change process.
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