The second tradition states, “For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.”
There are no leaders in AA, only trusted servants. Leadership comes through the conscience of the group and is seen to be a reflection of God. It is not uncommon, however, to see certain people occupy positions of more prominence in a twelve step group. In some cases, this is simply a byproduct of the number of people who are available and/or willing to step up and serve. This is fine. In other cases, there are people holding on to more than their fair share of authority. Under these circumstances, Tradition Two can be helpful in getting the group back on track.
If there is someone in a group who seems to always be leading the meeting, chairing the group consciences, or somehow serving as the clearing house for the slate of service positions, it is worth asking if the group could be better served by that person stepping aside for a time to allow others to participate. Approaching such a situation can be rather tricky as said persons often have long standing tenure within the group and strong social connections. Furthermore, there may be no outward signs of the ill effects of their outsized share of the leadership. Some people may in fact like one person doing all the work so they don’t have to lift a finger.
In such situations it is important to reflect upon the situation in prayer, talk with other members, and even seek counsel from experienced twelve step members from other groups. The right answer will come if we are open-minded, very similar to the advice we receive from the Big Book when working through our own issues. It is important to not jump to any conclusions but rather to seek the spirit of service and helping others that run through the fellowship. It is also important to give other members the benefit of the doubt. While it is easy to view them as controlling, a different approach might be to think of their fervor as coming from a sincere desire to help. We are all imperfect beings.
There will be times when your group seems to be well balanced in terms of leadership and other times when it seems a little off. There may be also times when you’re just not sure. Have faith in the other members of the group, in God and in the traditions. Have faith in the group conscience to ultimately steer the group towards what is right for everyone involved.
Tradition Two helps us to make sure that our groups are being led by God and the conscience of the group rather than by individuals. It might not always be so easy to see when, as a group, we need to make some adjustments in this department. But, if we proceed with a spirit of generosity and service, the correct answers will come. If there is a leader who is doing too much, we can offer to step up and serve. There is always an opportunity to help if our hearts are in the right place.