If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the received wisdom, anyway. If you’re doing at all well in your career, education or family life, there’s a temptation to keep on keeping on, with little or no change of methods. By and large, this “business-as-usual” approach is smart because what worked yesterday probably will keep working today. Tomorrow, however, is a different story.
Over and over, we’ve seen businesses fail and people get hurt, governments go off the cliff and association chapters dissolve. Why? Because leaders were not interested in changing methods that had always worked in the past. This business-as-usual blind spot is basically a failure of leadership, and effective leaders learn to identify it and change before they have to, rather than later, when it might be too late.
The Conservative Appeal of Business-as-Usual
If it was easy to innovate, everybody would do it. The main reason businesses and other large institutions don’t always get with the times is that business-as-usual has a certain appeal that’s hard to resist when there’s a lot at stake. Hollywood is a great example of this conservatism. Summer blockbusters easily can have production budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars and no studio is more than one flop away from bankruptcy. This creates a blind spot that affects studio execs and drives them to produce more of the same, rather than take chances and innovate. That craving for the sure thing and a general shortage of leadership to blaze a new trail might be why Hollywood closed out 2017 with 126 sequels, reboots and remakes in production, almost all of which were built on franchises that made money in the past.
The Need for Change
There’s a big difference between movies and home inspections, of course. But the business-as-usual blind spot can affect anyone. Think about the last time you seriously reevaluated the way you run your ASHI chapter. Did you do it proactively, without necessarily having a problem to address? A big part of leadership is knowing when and where to shake up things.
The Five “I”s of Leadership
Another big part of effective chapter leadership is knowing how to shake up things. Leaders who escape the business-as-usual blind spot have a few things in common and, taken together, these traits make a package that can apply to everything you do, within ASHI or outside of it.
Briefly, leaders who apply the five “I”s of blind-spot-free leadership are…
Influential – Chapter president in ASHI is a volunteer gig and leadership can only be by example. Your ethos is what influences others to trust you and take your ideas seriously. Effective change-makers in leadership roles are careful to appear generally wise, knowledgeable in their field, well-intentioned toward others and possessed by great integrity. These traits, taken together, naturally make up the kind of person whom other board members, chapter members and chapter sponsors trust implicitly.
Innovative – That you should shake up the status quo with innovative new approaches goes without saying, but are you challenging yourself to find creative ways to provide high value to chapter members? As creative as you are, bouncing ideas around a group of a dozen others can’t help but make you more innovative. Be sure to listen to the ideas others are sharing with you, and encourage everyone involved to open up and suggest areas for improvement.
Inclusive – The term “inclusivity” is overused these days, but the core concept is pure Leadership 101. Encourage as many people in your group as possible to contribute, even if they wouldn’t normally have a voice in the discussion. If, for example, you’re putting together a membership drive and the only people you’re talking to about it are other long-term veterans of the ASHI chapter, you’re really only working from one perspective. Poll the younger and newer people in the chapter, however, and you might get a very recent member’s input on what moved her to join when she did. That’s a fresh perspective that a table full of veterans might not have had otherwise.
Intentional – When you took leadership of your chapter, there was a system in place that had been used by your predecessor. You probably want to intentionally question the status quo and come up with new initiatives to propose to the board. Look at what is working well, what could work better and what isn’t working. Look back on the data to evaluate how to move forward and grow their chapter. In practice, a good leader finds the things that need to change and then changes them the way he or she wants, rather than having change unexpectedly forced on him or her.
Inspiring – To be inspiring as an ASHI chapter leader is to be fully on board with the vision of the national organization, to take on your leadership role with great enthusiasm, to empower many others to be part of the vision, to raise the level of professionalism, to make the meetings fun and to make others want to be part of the chapter.
Putting It All Together for Chapter Leaders
It’s natural for humans to get comfortable and let things stay the same for as long as possible. Even when we subconsciously know we need to change, we’re usually not in a hurry to do it unless the scenery is collapsing around us. You don’t have to get caught in the business-as-usual bear trap. By paying attention, finding processes that could use a change and then demonstrating real leadership, you can take initiative to break the business-as-usual blind spot by the way you run your chapter.
It’s important to run your chapter in the way you think will best serve the membership. If you have a business-as-usual method for recruiting, organizing events or scheduling conference calls, by all means, keep it if it still works. Remember, though, that we don’t know what we don’t know. And sometimes, the things we do know actually are not so.
To avoid the business-as-usual blind spot, the president should want to work as a team leader and gain as many unique perspectives as possible. By applying the five “I”s of leadership to the way you run your chapter, you can keep yourself and the chapter membership moving forward.
Kevin McCarthy recently earned the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speakers Association (NSA). The CSP designation is conferred by NSA on accomplished professional speakers who must document a proven track record of speaking experience and expertise, as well as a commitment to ongoing education, outstanding client service and ethical behavior.
Kevin is the Immediate Past-President of the NSA Oregon chapter and has served on the chapter’s board since 2014. He is the marketing chair for the NSA national chapter leadership committee, which educates and mentors NSA’s chapter presidents. In addition, he is a former owner of a large Century 21 real estate franchise based in the metropolitan Phoenix, AZ, area.
Visit Kevin’s website at https://KevinMcCarthy.com.