What’s Next for Volunteer Leadership in 2018 - Shared Agreements

Hey Everyone,

Thank you for all of your feedback on the original Volunteer Leadership Principles & Practices (if you haven’t seen the original principles - please take a look before you keep reading!).

As you know, volunteer leadership is one of the 7 themes that are critical to the success of the Mission Driven Mozillians project.

Below you’ll find the latest version of the agreements that we hope will shape Mozilla’s volunteer “leadership” structures as we move into 2018.

What We Heard - The Feedback

At the end of 2017 we collected a ton of feedback through discourse, email, and the many conversations led by community managers, and volunteers.

Here are some of the 5 major themes we heard in the feedback:

  • We need to frame the principles more positively as guard rails, not rules.
  • Implementation should not be a one size fits all model - any implementation need to accommodate the different needs of different communities and regions.
  • The need for this is not clear to everyone - will this really solve the “chaos”?
  • The term “leader” is loaded and negative in a lot of cultures.
  • We need to offer equal opportunities to get diverse leaders.

Based on this asynchronous feedback we met in Austin with 28 staff and volunteers to discuss the feedback and create and agree on a revised version of the principles to guide our work in the new year.

The combination of these two sources of input ultimately created the shared agreements below…

Leadership By Design: Shared Agreements

For the purpose of this document instead of using the term “leader” we will be referring to “coordinating roles” meaning anytime someone is in a role where they are responsible for coordinating the activities or actions of others.

1. Where people hold coordinating roles, they should be reviewed regularly

  • This creates opportunities for new, diverse leaders to emerge
  • Ensures continuous support from the communities they serve
  • Prevents toxic individuals from maintaining power indefinitely
  • Creates space for individuals to receive feedback and support to better thrive in their role

2. Responsibilities should be clearly communicated and distributed

  • Creates more opportunities for more people
  • Avoids gatekeeping and power accumulation
  • Reduces burnout and over reliance on an individual by sharing accountability
  • Creates leadership pathways for new people
  • Potentially increases diversity
  • An emphasis on responsibility over title avoids unnecessary “authority labels”

3. When people are in a coordinating role, they should abide by standards, and be accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities

  • This builds confidence and support for individuals and these roles from community members and staff
  • Ensures that everyone has shared clarity on expectations and success
  • Creates an environment where the CPG is applied consistently
  • Increases the consistency in roles across the org

4. People in coordinating roles should follow and model Mozilla’s diversity & inclusion values

  • Creates a culture of inclusion that invites participation from new voices
  • Encourages the inclusion of diverse voices and groups
    Creates an environment where the CPG is applied consistently
    Enables leadership pathways that explicitly consider inclusion dimensions

5. People with coordinating roles should be supported and recognized in a set of standard ways across Mozilla

  • Enables people to have equal access to training and growth opportunities regardless of what part of the org they contribute to
  • Allows people to follow their passions/skills instead of just reward
  • Roles have clear definitions and avoid labels that create authority feeling.
  • We get shared understandings of the kinds of responsibilities that exist.

What’s Next?

Understanding how these ideas shape the way communities function at Mozilla is the collective work of Mission Driven Mozillians in 2018. It cannot be the work of one person or even one team.

Next week we’ll be sharing the details of a pilot that we’ll be running in partnership with the Localization Team to experiment with how to best support L10N communities as they starting thinking about implementing these agreements.

Reps Council has already started to think about how implementing these shared agreements could supercharge the program and their work (more updates to come).

We hope that this will spark multiple discussions about how these shared agreements might be a tool for community health, and we’re asking each of you to take up the challenge in your communities…

Start a conversation about what is and isn’t working in your community. Examine the roles, accountability structures, and renewal systems that are around you.

If you do please share the things you’re trying and what you’re learning. Tag your discourse posts with “leadership-learnings” so we can amplify and support your work.

As always keep following the mission-mozillians tag for future updates.


Lucy (@lucyeoh) and Rubén (@nukeador)