Ideas & Challenges for the New Year

By Daniel Stein

After the 2018 Leatid Top Leaders seminar I realized that many of the participants have much broader responsibilities and have to overcome very critical challenges. Knowing that helps me keep a “low profile” regarding my own challenges. Here are some of the ideas I brought back to my community:

  • Our Jewish community is not limited to our edifice, as in the past. The community faces the challenge to capture the interest of new kinds of Jews (and non-Jews) with multi-identification. Even fundamental concepts such as “Judaism” and “Jewish identity” are questionable. We need to provoke interaction rather than mere top-down education and activities.
  • The essence of the Jewish People is to keep a positive attitude, self-confident and to move forward with faith (especially with a backdrop of repetitive anti-Semitic attacks). The good news is that Jewish tradition and literature may be a useful and creative resource in solving leadership and community issues.
  • The community belongs to the members, not to the manager or to the board. Modern management should be more horizontal. One of the main decisions of a leader is to prepare his/her own succession. (and maybe even to find a successor better than you!)
  • Communication of messages is often unclear and the audience may not perceive the most important information. A “Yes” is often misleading and may be the contrary of a real commitment.
  • Give the opponent the opportunity to lead the project that he strongly opposed at the beginning!
  • Leadership requires not only empathy but also courage (i.e. taking radical adverse decisions … with a big smile)
  • When working on long term or middle term projects, “time” is a key factor. Regular reassessment is mandatory. A project, even fully and properly agreed on, should be stopped if no longer relevant.
  • Find the appropriate way to question people about circumstances and find their readiness level. Make people appropriate the project they have to carry out and get a clear commitment to work.

And here are some of the ways I might implement changes after the seminar:

  • Define with the board a clear vision for the community, reassessed from time to time, and the ensuing relevant missions.
  • Get reports and provoke mutual reassessments of the projects to take consideration of possible change of context.
  • I will try to foster horizontal management when possible, even if it is time consuming and also try to make people feel and understand that the community belongs to all of us.
  • Make sure that the members of the board are concerned and aware about the issues they are dealing with.
  • Continue, in accordance with our rabbi, to open the community, welcome all kinds of new members, organize challenging debate inside and outside the Jewish community, develop the Dorvador Tel Aviv Branch etc.
  • Have people work together on key projects. Cooperate with other Jewish and non-Jewish organizations locally and abroad.
  • Better prepare the board meeting and make sure that everybody understands and get personally involved.
  • Transmit enthusiasm and try to get people to adhere genuinely to the projects and act.
  • Keep calm and self-confident.
  • Identify the readiness level of volunteers.
  • Show courage in decision-making.
  • Last but not least, take more pleasure in leadership!

Daniel Stein is President of DorVador Congregation, Paris, France.

Cross-posted on the Leatid Blog