Leadership-Relationship-Trust: Growing Local Leadership for Community Resilience

Efrat Ben Tzvi and Heftsiba Deshen

The term community resilience stems from research on communities in a state of emergency—how can a community can stay resilient during an emergency? Research by Dr. Limor Aharonson-Daniel and Prof. Mooli Lahad (Ben Gurion University of the Negev and Tel Hai College, January 2013) examined five elements that need to be considered in order to determine community resilience:

An incumbent leadership that supports the local leadership increases community resilience.

Whether residents are proud of the locality in which they live, have a sense of belonging to the place, along with its values and ideology. The stronger the connection, the more of a positive influence there is on community resilience.

Trust between different groups within the locality increases community resilience.

Mutual support, caring for the other, and perceived community competence all influence the degree of community resilience.

The extent to which the community is familiar with the emergency protocols in their locality. There is a positive relationship between involvement with the emergency protocols and perceived community resilience.

Many good solutions have developed out of extreme situations, like pedagogic developments in special education that were adapted to general education. This is because extreme situations force educators to be creative.


Accordingly, what is good for the community in times of emergency is also good for it in times of routine. There are special solutions for creating a leadership-relationship-trust triangle.

First, developing trust between the incumbent leadership and the residents, outside of their formal roles.

After developing many pockets of local leadership in the neighborhoods, including certain target groups, such as pensioners or educators—the incumbent leadership creates a network of local leaders within the locality, which in turn enhances community resilience. In this way, the incumbent leadership is not alone in solving authority-level challenges.

Second, creating as many local leadership groups as possible, because the local leadership is closely connected to the place (the locality), and grows around the relationship with it. As soon as there is strong local leadership that creates local initiatives, many people connect around those initiatives, so that the residents, who are also involved in the initiatives, strengthen their ties to the place.

Third, these groups are built on trust, partnerships, joint activities—this is how social trust forms. None of this will happen if the incumbent leadership does not take responsibility for these groups. The Democratic Institute works to do this from a holistic, 360-degree standpoint, with transparency and a strong foundation of trust and strong ties to the authority.

In the neighborhood leadership program Gevanim in the Neighborhood, a residential network was formed. Following a personal conversation, they discovered that many of them are local business owners. Therefore, when the group split up into teams, a team of local business owners was established. The team collectively made decisions on how to promote local businesses among the neighborhood’s residents. They researched the history of businesses in their neighborhood, posted banners on taxis, invented a slogan, and more. This way, the business owners’ network helps its members to promote their businesses, and each member is supported by the group.

In the leadership program for pensioners—Activism Greenhouses 60+—the head of the community department in a city in southern Israel shared with the Activists 60+ group his work plan regarding the state of the community in the city. The participants appreciated that he shared the real problems, “as is”. They became involved in helping to solve these problems and thus became not just residents, but partners.

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