The Odessa Record -


The quality of leadership


I've been contemplating the quality of leadership recently, not least because of the mess in Washington, D. C.

What really inspired me to try writing about it, though, was our quilt club business meeting Monday night.

You see, it's time for the annual election of officers.

We're not a very large organization to begin with. There were only ten of us at that meeting. There are probably about 12 who form the core of the group. And when there are three real officer positions to fill, and one that is probably not necessary (when was the last time we needed a "Sergeant-at-Arms," anyway? We're quilters, not politicians!)

You can probably see where this is going.

The current president, following the agenda, brought up the election of officers. She is ending her second term, and would like some time off. The acting secretary has been standing in for a no-show for months. The treasurer has done the job for several years now and has other, more urgent responsibilities that require her attention.

Volunteers were requested.

No hands went up.

At least at first.

Then one member said she was willing to act as treasurer, as she felt it was the least demanding job.

The acting secretary said she was willing to continue as the official secretary.

It was suggested that the vice-president move into the position of president, but she was reluctant.

And there we sat.

I know I've written before of how I find a volunteer void nearly impossible to endure. I was ready to leap to my feet to say, "I'll do it all! I know I can do it all!"

Fortunately, I was able to restrain myself.

One of our more practical members made a motion to move the election of officers to the November meeting, with the proviso that a nominating committee would attempt to find more candidates.

And there we are, wondering who will be willing to serve again (and possibly again, and again, and again.)

It's my (personal and not always shared by others) belief that the role of president (or chairperson) in most organizations is actually one of the easiest (as long as you're a tiny bit organized, and as long as your organization functions properly.) A great many people seem to feel that being the president entitles you to push your own agenda. I believe that the most important agenda is the one you prepare prior to a meeting. Then you request reports from other officers and committee heads. You ensure that both old business and new business are covered. You have a working knowledge of the bylaws. And you always ask yourself and others if the actions of the organization are appropriate in view of the mission statement.

This approach respects both the worth of the organization and the time of the people participating.

See? Simple.

Now to tie this all together.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary (on-line, of course) lists these three definitions of leadership on their site:

" A position as a leader of a group, organization, etc.

" The time when a person holds the position of leader

" The power or ability to lead other people

I believe that many of us fear to attempt the first (and thus the second) because we are afraid that we will be found lacking in the third. And that means that a great many potential leaders are lost to us. Because we don't need George Washington.

We need you.


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