I’ve noticed that, although people come into leadership positions for many different reasons, they all seem to fall into one of two basic categories: pushed or pulled.
Pushed: Some of us aspire to leadership positions. We think about ways that we can step forward, rally the troops, create incentive, give directions, take charge. We may have been taught leadership. We may have admired strong leaders. We may have developed leadership skills. We join an organization and immediately start looking for opportunities to get involved—to be helpful. When the current leaders ask for volunteers, we step up. Before long, other members begin to recognize us, maybe even appreciate us. Our names come up at nominating committee meetings. We might even nominate ourselves. We push ourselves into leadership roles.
Pulled: Others of us are slow to volunteer. It’s not that we’re unwilling; it’s just not in our nature. We have responsibilities outside the organization. We appreciate the efforts of the volunteers who do get things done, but it’s just not our style. Eventually, though, some set of circumstances brings each of us, individually, to the attention of our peers. Someone recognizes that we have a certain skill. There is a need and we just happen to be there with the ability to meet that need. We’re not about to nominate ourselves, yet our names do come up at nominating committee meetings. We are pulled into leadership.
As we enter ASHI’s election season, let us not forget that the Council of Representatives (CoR) has several roles and responsibilities within ASHI. By design, the CoR is the deliberative body. It is incumbent on us to be constantly engaged in thoughtful dialogue, considering options, imagining possibilities and charting a future.
Specifically because of its crucial role in the officers and directors selection process, the CoR must be engaged in thoughtful consideration of what policies are pending and which directions are being explored. This is why the CoR Group Leaders meet every month; our discussions become the foundation of the nominating process. It is our job to consider the direction in which we want to steer ASHI.
Not only is it incumbent on us to understand the issues, but we should also be talking to the potential nominees about where they stand on the issues. It is to that end that I keep encouraging discussion at the grassroots level. This is where the future leaders are. If we wait for those who push themselves, we miss half of the pool of future leaders. Part of our job is to pull people into positions of leadership.
Besides reminding ourselves to pull in the more reluctant leaders, let’s not forget to welcome the enthusiastic volunteers. ASHI is a big-tent society. Let’s talk it up; encourage each other to volunteer. Let’s step it up; volunteer ourselves. Let’s build it up; untapped human resources abound. You may be sitting next to the person who has the necessary skill or the next big idea, but you’ll never know if you don’t start the discussion.