Things I don’t believe in #6 – All powerful expatriate leadership

This is the first thing – expats don’t stay forever. In two or three or four years, the expat will leave. If your whole program depends on her, or the staff believes that it does, things will go to pieces when she leaves. This is the second thing – it’s disempowering. You don’t want your staff, or your stakeholders, to believe change only comes from outsiders. You want people to find their own power and their own capacity to influence their lives and communities. You don’t want them to sit around waiting and starving for the Dutch to come back and rebuild the irrigation canals.

This is the third thing. You want your staff invested in the process. You want everyone involved to know your select your pilot schools because they meet the qualifications for your program. You don’t want them thinking the schools were selected because Mr. Thomas feels really bad for the villages, or worse yet, because he thought the teachers were pretty. You want people to know you’ve got a system and your apply it fairly.

This is the fourth thing. Country Directors who allow themselves to be seen as having and exerting that kind of power end up isolated. Staff members won’t be comfortable being part of a collaborative decision-making process. They won’t offer opinions on how to make things better, and they won’t go to the CD if they identify a problem.

Good programs come from good teams, not from little gods and their adoring worshippers.