Shared Leadership and Bahá'í Community Life

By Roya Ayman

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #111
Centre for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
June 30 – July 3, 2012
(see list of papers from #111)

    Bahá'í Faith presents a new approach to social structure of the community. Today, God has ordained a major paradigm shift in society where no longer an individual may exercise authority and power over others. Bahá'u'lláh has abrogated the position of professional clergy in the Bahá'í community. Furthermore, for the first time, He has separated the function of assuming individual responsibility from exercising individual authority over others. In essence, with the inception of the Bahá'í dispensation, the divine plan revealed a new concept of shared leadership.

    In this presentation we will review the phenomenon of shared or distributive leadership in contrast to vertical, hierarchical, or heroic leadership. The conditions that allow for shared leadership to function will be explored. Also we will examine the vision of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá regarding leadership in the Bahá'í community. We will also discuss how the Bahá'í community in its infancy is preparing for this new structure and how the recent messages from the universal house of Justice guide the Bahá'í community to be poised to implement shared leadership.

    This presentation is a preliminary exploration of a new concept in the field of leadership. Additionally, it is a brief overview of the recent developments in the Bahá'í community in preparation for entry by troops through exercising a new concept of community leadership in the form of shared leadership.

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