Leadership in the Weeds

In the WeedsBear with me as I recite a boring but true fact: In associations, volunteers are elected to lead, be visionary and place the organization in a position that prepares itself for the future. Their time is valuable and it must be spent contributing at a high level. Their guide is the strategic plan and the governance model of the association. What volunteers do today should affect and advance the association well into the future. That takes planning and bravery.

What I’ve seen happen all too often is volunteers straying from this higher level of planning and getting involved in the inner workings of their board. I don’t know, maybe it’s human nature to want to get involved with what you think you know best. Let me give you an example: an association was organizing an education day and the committee suggested some topics to the staff. Fair enough, these members are in the field and they know what they need. The volunteer committee members then proceeded to discuss what venue to hold the session, how the rooms should be set up and what speakers should be contacted. That is the job of staff who are trained and experienced in these areas, not volunteers. In association slang, we call that “getting into the weeds” and it is totally unproductive.

It happens at the board of director level also. Let’s say the MLS® Committee comes to the board with a proposal for a new MLS® provider that they have been working on for months. The directors begin to comment on what screen shots they don’t like, or a search feature that needs to be changed or even suggestions about choosing another provider. That’s not their job. We call that “doing committee work” and another example of getting in the weeds. Their concern should be making sure it fits with their strategic plan, budget and general criteria.

Have you experienced this at your association?


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