E.1. Structure of the Community-Leadership

Expectations of Leaders

Because of the role they play, RC leaders are expected to be knowledgeable about RC theory and policy and rigorous in their RC practice. Leaders need to grow in their functioning as leaders. They do not need to be perfect. They are expected to

  1. participate regularly in Co-Counseling activities, attend workshops and classes led by other leaders, and keep up to date on developing theory;
  2. encourage and consider the thinking of group members, and be accountable to group members; communicate reasons for any decisions to those affected by the decisions, including inviting and answering questions;
  3. help grow the Community;
  4. encourage and prepare new leaders and assist in the development of existing leaders;
  5. encourage and prepare others to replace them in their leadership roles (see Guideline E.11. Developing New Reference Persons);
  6. build good, cooperative relationships with their Reference Persons and other leaders;
  7. model a commitment to human liberation from distress and oppression; and
  8. make agreements with other RC leaders to challenge and interrupt distress patterns, including counseling one another if either are in difficulty.

One Designated Leader

RC operates on the assumption that leadership is individual—one person is designated to lead each activity and organizational structure.[68] Having one designated leader makes accountability clear. All RC leaders are also expected to seek others’ thinking. Several leaders can work together to lead an event, but one leader is in charge overall. When there is more than one leader for a workshop (done only with the approval of the International Reference Person [IRP]), one person is always designated as the key leader.

Reference Persons

Reference Persons exercise judgment about their constituency, group, Community, or Region in a manner consistent with RC theory and the Guidelines. Reference Persons foster a cooperative group of leaders. They provide strong counseling. They encourage new leaders to emerge. They can be consulted by constituency and Community members about RC theory and practice and can help solve difficulties between members.


When leading, mistakes happen and are to be learned from. It is not useful for Co-Counselors to expect their RC leaders to be perfect, or for leaders to assume they will never make mistakes. When a leader makes a mistake, they are expected to

  1. accept assistance to both face the mistake and discharge to find the source of the hurt that caused the mistaken behavior;
  2. not defend the mistake;
  3. listen and talk with those involved;
  4. where possible, apologize to those affected and offer to correct the mistake; and
  5. aim to not repeat the same mistake and make an ongoing commitment to discharge any distresses that led to that mistake. 

(See Guideline M.5. Handling Oppressor Patterns, including Sexual Misconduct, and Addressing Mistakes, Disagreements, and Criticism.)

If the leader’s functioning and judgment become seriously compromised by their distresses, that leader may be required to step down by the IRP.


Leading in the way described above demonstrates that all members of the RC Community are peers. It can nurture current leaders and develop new leaders. Encouraging each person to become a leader strengthens our Community, promotes individual re-emergence, increases our effectiveness, and makes it possible to offer RC tools to more people.

People do not lead well in isolation. We encourage leaders to find others to share in the work and assume different leadership roles. However, our experience in RC has shown that having one designated leader leads to the best outcomes. “Rotating leadership,” “co-leadership,” and “collective leadership” have not worked well in our experience unless there is also a designated leader.

We want to make it possible for groups to move forward based on the best thinking available. We need broad input. We seek to reach general agreement or achieve consensus.[69]

We can achieve this with time. However, important decisions sometimes should be made quickly and then tested in practice. The results of such decisions can be examined and, if necessary, the decisions can be modified based on the results.


[68] See Articles Supporting Our Understanding of the Guidelines: rc.org/guidelinesresources.

[69] Consensus means agreement by the group as a whole. A working consensus means a tentative agreement that allows the group to move forward.


Last modified: 2023-02-19 20:02:00+00