At the end of 2015 the Council worked with Herbert Wolpert to provide a sense of direction for the next three years. In this workshop, the council developed three goals: 1. Connecting the spiritual impulse to the 21st century; 2. Outreach – develop connections with a wider spectrum of society, have a voice in the world and to better communication with membership and friends; 3. Support new initiative. This became a central theme for 2016, one the council shared and discussed with members. It was the impulse behind Noel Josephson’s talk at the AGM and the questions he asked that spurred us to look more closely at our work and engagement in the world. 

In February, we were fortunate to again work with Herbert. This time our theme was Leadership and what that looks like for the Anthroposophical Society in NZ. First, we reviewed 2016, what was achieved and what was lacking. The goals gave the council a focus and a sense of purpose. They influenced our conversations, set the tone for our meetings with members and inspired some changes. For one we moved the AGM out of the conference, giving a day to focus specifically on the Society, allow time and space to share and hear from members. We were better able to welcome and integrate outside speakers and younger voices into the conference. People were given a place to share their initiatives. The goals brought increased clarity to our communications. Though each goal can be worked with independently, the three goals working together bring about community building. Overall, council members experienced new energy, enthusiasm and cohesiveness from the focus and a deepening into anthroposophy.

As much as the focus supported the council in its work we were unable to say if the spark had ignited any fires amongst members. We are challenged to know how far our communication reaches. A handwritten letter from an elderly member was a rare jewel of response to an article in Scope. Most people on the council are in fulltime positions that allow little time to focus on the Society, the Society has few resources and this limits the scope of what we can do and achieve. We work with a limited budget, we eat into our legacies and despite all there is a deep commitment to support the Society and carry it forward. We are aware that more could be done and one thing we realised is that we lack a process to directly invite members to take up tasks. Yet looking at the lists at the end of the review we realised that we had achieved more than we imagined and this gave a positive impulse to our commitment to ongoing work. 

In a brief summary we saw that working with the spiritual impulse is evolving well, that we need to focus more on outreach and while we support initiatives that come towards us we struggle to identify where the new initiatives are.

Leadership being the central theme for our day, Herbert introduced the concepts of leadership and management, the opening thoughts I share as a taster:

Leadership has become a fashionable word starting 30 years ago. Authors like Joseph Kotter or Peter Drucker introduced a first differentiation between the roles of leaders and managers.

Leadership and Management go hand in hand. They are not the same, but they are necessarily linked and complementary. Any effort to separate the two is likely to cause more problems than it solves.

Still, much ink has been spent delineating the differences. The manager’s job is to plan, organise and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate.

A variety of questions helped us better understand our role and what each of us brings to the group before differentiating what Herbert shared as the three tasks of leadership:

  1. Organisational Development – developing the organisation, developing an annual plan, planning ahead and reviewing what we’ve done and agreed to. Developing a long-term perspective, looking beyond the horizon.
  2. Team Leadership – developing collaboration between people. Understanding what we do well, what we need more of and what we need less of to strengthen our communication, processes and interaction.
  3. Self Leadership – developing self and becoming an ‘agent of change’.

Before the close of day, we were able to access how we work, what is lacking and what we can improve. When the meeting closed we had set tasks and identified who would be responsible for them.

A few years ago a colleague in Europe shared how difficult they found it to develop goals for the Society. Perhaps there is something nebulous in trying to express the spiritual in life. The work that the council did with Herbert, I liken to cleaning the space and preparing it so that the spirit can be present and active in our work. We are all grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him. This year we aim to strengthen our connection and interaction with the membership.

In this issue of Scope we’d like to introduce Carolyn Hughes who we have invited to join the council. Carolyn would be the only mainlander on the council and we warmly welcome her presence.

As you receive this I will be flying to Dornach for the general secretaries meeting. I look forward to sharing news from around the world. After the AGM in Dornach I’ve been invited by the French general secretary to visit France. I’m not sure what he has planned but he has asked me to speak to members about New Zealand and the recent council meeting has certainly filled my kete with ideas!

You may have read in AWW the article Light and Warmth for the Human Soul: How can the Foundation Stone Mediation promote peaceability, a hundred years after the birth of the social threefolding impulse? This theme will be central to our conversations and work. It was the focus for the World Conference and appropriate that we pick up on and deepen this meditation in preparation for the century anniversary of the Christmas Conference 1923/24 where the flame of the Anthroposophical Society was reignited. In New Zealand this year, the theme of the School of Spiritual Science conference is Relating the Foundation Stone Meditation to the 19 Class Lessons. Members and groups may wish to take it up as a central theme in their work this year. It would also be wonderful to share insights and understanding that arise from the experience of working with the verse.

Sue Simpson