AMHRO Association of Manufactured Home Residents in Ohio

 Types of Leaders 

What is a Leader?

Most people tend to associate leaders with people who are in the public eye. These tend to be people like our president, mayor, pastor, or CEO. The common thread is that these leaders have influence and some decision-making authority. Another common perception is that leaders are people who are charismatic and dominant. Often times they embody qualities that we feel we don’t personally possess.

Our misconception of what a leader is can lead to the belief that we can never be leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth. When organizing in manufactured home parks it’s important to note that leaders are not born, they are developed. Being charismatic has nothing to do with being a leader. Being a leader means understanding the power that you have as it relates to the power of your community.

Three Elements of a Leader

1.    Leaders Have a Vision.

Our community is not perfect; there are always things that can change. Our values influence our vision for our community. Effective leaders understand their vision as it is tied to their values and the values of everyone else in their community.

For example, in 2007, residents of manufactured home parks in Minnesota were organizing to pass a new state law that protected against the closing of parks. Leaders across the state got involved in the process, called and met with their legislators, and were able to successfully gather enough support to pass our new state law. Leaders in Minnesota shared the same values of “Family, Home, and Community.” The new state law was their common vision of how to live out their values.

2.    Leaders Have a Base.

In the section on “Power” we learn about where power comes from [Organized People, Organized Money, Organized Resources, and Organized Ideas]. Leaders draw their power from their community (or base); they support the work of their leaders. Leaders in turn have the responsibility of keeping their base engaged, and will consistently have events or actions that their base can participate in. Leaders are ineffective and have little power in a community without a strong base.

 3.    Leaders Have a Vehicle.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that you get a free car if you become a leader. Figuratively speaking, a vehicle is a means by which to live out your vision and values. A vehicle is also an effective way to keep your base organized. What do you do with a group of leaders and a base? For many residents of manufactured home parks, their vehicle has become a homeowners association.

A vehicle is simply a formal structure, which leaders and a base can participate in to create the changes they want to see in their community.

Stages of Leadership Development

Leadership development has to be an intentional component of any organization, whether it is a homeowners association in a particular manufactured home park or a statewide tenants’ union. The four stages of leadership development take leaders through a journey of self-discovery. At every stage, responsibilities increase and change. There is no set period of time for development, as this varies from person to person.

Introduction to Leadership

Leadership

1.    New Leaders: Getting Started

A leader in this stage understands the importance of getting people involved. They generate a lot of good questions. They also attend meetings and encourage other people in their community to attend as well. A common quality of a new leader is that they’re angry, they understand what’s going on in their community, and they are able to see the unfairness and inequality. In meetings, these leaders participate, give their opinions, and figure out the next steps for their organization.

 2.    Emerging Leaders: More Responsibility and a Base

The emerging stage engages the leader with new responsibilities. The main responsibility in this stage is recruitment of new members. This is done through one-to-one personal visits in which the leader talks with individual people about their shared vision for the community.

A leader in this stage asks good questions but also actively seeks out the answers to their questions through research. The leader begins to take a more active role in the campaign by being a spokesperson at specific activities (e.g. rally, meeting) and by seeking out responsibilities at meetings. They also understand the importance of the media and how to get them involved. In the development process they begin to learn about local and state governments, and they become experts on their specific issue.

Their world view changes from their specific neighborhood to a better understanding of the bigger picture. Lastly, they understand how institutional power works.

3.    Experienced Leaders: Teaching Others

An experienced leader teaches others around them and intentionally develops new leaders. They coordinate the outreach to the base and continue to do one- to-one personal visits. Experienced leaders recruit allies to support their campaign. They are also the main representatives for the organization in coalitions and partnerships.

They are comfortable conducting media interviews alone. They attend and participate in strategy sessions. They actively take a role in prepping new leaders in taking a more active role in the organization. They participate in negotiations and run meeting evaluations. An experienced leader is able to connect their issue with much broader issues; for example, how their manufactured home park is tied to the broader issue of affordable housing.

Lastly, an experienced leader chairs meetings and participates on boards of various organizations, such as APAC.

4.    Super Experienced Leaders

At this highest level of leadership development, the leader takes a step back from the day-to-day activities of the organization and acts as an overseer. The crucial component of this leadership stage is encouraging new leaders to take a more active role in the organization. A super experienced leader will chair coalitions and provide feedback to emerging leaders.