What you will learn in this module
Understand different tasks that have to be done in the groups
Address issues related to overburdening of a leader
Emphasize sharing of responsibilities
Recognize the dangers of too much dependence on one or two members in the group
Understand the pros and cons of "volunteers" in groups
Concept of leadership and team work
2 - 4 hours
Introduce the session with stories about leadership in group activity. You can use the case studies of rural women's groups with overburdened leaders or your own experience. The participants may also want to share some stories.
During the discussion, highlight the impact of the uneven distribution of responsibilities on the leader and on the group. Ask members about the division of responsibilities in their groups. Ask some leaders how they feel about this.
Brief participants to prepare for a role-play, either using some of the scenarios discussed till now, or case studies from the set. Ask them to plan it themselves - don't give them a script to work with. In this way, situations will be more realistic and participants will have to think through the issues they have to face. Bringing humour into the presentation makes the point easier to understand and encourages participants to change their behaviour patterns.
Set a deadline for planning/writing and rehearsing the role-play, giving participants at least 90 minutes to prepare. A late afternoon or evening presentation saves time and often provides the right atmosphere for a more open discussion on the subject.
A short plenary session after the presentation helps the group to reiterate the lessons they have learned.
Emphasize the following lessons:
- It is important to realize the vision of a group as a future cooperative. Each group is a potential cooperative. In order to realize this vision, team work is important.
- Groups must go through a process of institution-building. For this, good leadership and teamwork are important.
- Groups must shed excessive dependence on their leaders. Members must be able to negotiate shared responsibilities in order to participate in decision-making.
- Too much dependence on "volunteers" places a greater burden on volunteer group members.
- Participation of members enhances the quality of the group's decision-making and improves the chances of its success in business.
Handout 1: role of cooperation and team work
1. A rural women's cooperative group business has different tasks such as:
- Coordination of production
- Quality control
- Public relations and networking
- Book keeping
- Cleaning and housekeeping
- Other tasks
2. Most of these tasks are performed by members in most women's cooperatives.
3. Members perform these tasks based on a voluntary division of labour.
4. However, pressing household chores make it difficult to keep this division of labour permanent, leading to permanent coverage of only some tasks.
5. In groups where the tasks are not shared by members, one or two women take the burden.
6. If the group depends on one or two women leaders for most tasks, the group business becomes dependent on them.
7. A proper allocation of tasks among several members is important for transparency, accountability and sustainable management of the group business. For this, many members must be trained in essential group management tasks.
8. Each group must ensure that at least two members are trained in every essential task.
9. It is a good practice to rotate key group tasks among members; at least ten members must be trained in the various group tasks.
10. The right division of tasks and responsibilities ensures that more members know what is happening in the group and are able to share their opinions.
11. It is also good practice to have a rule for changing the group chairperson and secretary at least once in two years. This promotes better practice of cooperative principles within women's groups.
12. Information sharing is important. The spirit of cooperation can be promoted only by sharing information about the management of business and the business environment among group members. Information about institutional linkages facilitates effective networking across the group, rather than restricting it to a few members.
Volunteers or paid workers?
In most women's groups, members perform the tasks on a voluntary basis. In some cases, members doing group jobs are compensated on the basis of an average daily wage calculated by the group. However, in most cases, groups have such arrangements only for marketing and networking jobs and not for tasks like bookkeeping or cash management.
The advantage of voluntary work:
Overburdening of those performing the tasks.
Members do not accept group jobs, preferring to do their own production work. They do not consider it worthwhile to give time to group work over family or personal work.
If fewer members come forward to share group jobs, a few members retain the burden as well as the control.
Handout 2: idea for role-play
The following exercise is based on assumption and imagination.
Prepare as many cards as there are jobs in the group and explain to the participants that each card carries a particular weight. For example, the tag of marketing carries a weight of 5 kg and so on. Each participant has to wear a tag that describes her role in the group. In case she has more than one role, she has to wear a tag for each activity. In this way, participants can calculate the burden of the jobs that they are doing. The facilitator will have to assign a weight in terms of kilograms to each of the tasks given below:
The roles that members typically assume are brought into focus by the tags that they wear and must be used as part of the dramatization. Based on these roles, the scripts/role plays that they produce should reflect their real experiences.
Each group presents its own role-play. Hold a plenary after the role-plays to highlight the difficulties faced by the groups in sharing tasks and responsibilities as well as the lessons learned.
Handout 3: case study on leadership and team work
Khun Layyat is the leader of the Bong Ho women's group that produces and sells artificial flowers. She is also a religious leader in a Buddhist monastery. She has a regular job of looking after the monastery, giving lectures and leading meditation sessions with visitors who come for retreats at the monastery.
She knows about costing, pricing and marketing of the products and interacts with all the customers. She decides what quantities to produce against the orders and delivers the product. She handles cash and helps the accountant in writing and finalizing the accounts.
One day, some interested customers came to visit the group but Khun Layyat could not meet them. Three days earlier, she was engaged in meditation and other spiritual work at the monastery. She had to ensure that the people at the meditation retreat were well looked after. As a result, she was too tired and ill and was not able to meet the group's prospective clients.
Discuss the situation of the group, and suggest how the group can address these issues. Present the situation as a role-play.
This case study can be used across different sectors such as food, wood, textile and handicrafts.
Handout 4: case study on division of responsibilities
The women's group in Ang Thong Tambon makes high quality textiles that have a very good market. All their production is sold within a month. Traders and customers from Bangkok visit them to place orders. The Cooperative Promotions Department had supported the group. Khun Nallini from the CPD visited the group one day to check how they were doing.
When she looked into the accounts, she found that these had not been tallied for over three months. The women told her that the group leader, who knew and managed every aspect of the group's business, had died three months ago. There were many aspects of the group business that the members did not know how to manage. They certainly could not say what the costs, earnings and surpluses were. They also could not exactly explain the savings scheme that was supervised by the Local Administration Council. They wanted Khun Nallini to tell them about savings, accounts, finances and marketing so that they could begin to manage their group affairs.
Discuss the situation of the group. Prepare and stage a role-play on the case study.
Handout 5: case study on team-building
The Klaung Hua women's group in Angthong makes handicrafts from water hyacinth. The group has 85 members and all are economically active in the group.
While 30 women are involved in obtaining the raw material, 20 more work to plait this into one-meter pieces. Another 30 members make the final products. Five members are selected for marketing and quality control activities.
All members meet on a quarterly basis to decide prices for different products according to prices prevailing in the market. As a team, the group also takes decisions on how the profits would be utilized.
Analyse how the group divides its work. Discuss how your own group divides the work and how joint decision-making takes place.
What you have learnt in this module
The importance of leadership.
Groups must have clarity about the roles and responsibilities that must be assigned. At least two to three members must be involved in marketing, at least two in public relations and accounts, and at least two in assigning production and quality control.
A group should have a good balance of "paid" staff and "volunteers" to ensure smooth functioning.
Groups with good leadership and teamwork can become prominent members of local society and gain recognition for their work.