Stonehenge, Leadership Training and Other Myths


You may have noticed I have not posted in a week or so and that is because I have spent some time in the United Kingdom! The English countryside is truly beautiful and we were fortunate to spend some time in Stonehenge. As part of the tour of this ancient mystery of the world we learned that although this is often believed to be a druidic ruin the truth is it predates the druidic culture. I thought about the truism, “if a lie is repeated enough it becomes the accepted truth” which is the basis for all successful propaganda.

There is a myth that has pervaded association management for decades and that myth needs to be revealed; just as we learned that the druids did not build Stonehenge we must also accept that the member does not build a strong association without staff help.

The pervasive myth is that if a member is successful in the business of the industry then he or she will be a great leader and member of the board of directors. In fact nothing could be further from the truth.  There is a dramatic difference between running a non-profit association and running a successful for profit business. First and foremost the base mission is completely different. An association does not exist to sell a product to the market for the financial benefit of its stockholders/ shareholders.  An association only has stakeholders not shareholders.  Second, to lead requires vision not necessarily business acumen. Not to say that there are not shining examples of both, for example Steve Jobs and Sam Walton, but they are the exception not the rule.

We must remember that the rank and file member typically is not at the level of success that allows a member to rise to an officer position in the association.  What is appealing to the successful member may have little if any value to the rank and file member. So what is the process of preparing that member to lead the association? Leadership training.

So often we think of leadership training as familiarizing the member with existing staff processes, processes and policies of the parent organization if applicable, fiduciary duties, local policies, Roberts Rules training, media training, and clarification of roles and expectations. And that is all very good and very necessary but these steps simply increase their awareness and knowledge and add to their business acumen- they do not teach a person how to lead.

In developing a comprehensive leadership training program (and believe me I have attended several in my years with the National Association of REALTORS) there needs to be thought and effort put in to what it is exactly do you want your board of directors to do. We want them to lead but we give them management training and then wonder why they seem to want to manage when that is the role of staff.  The process needs to begin at the beginning. We should be training our director candidates in leadership and self-awareness.

As a PhD candidate in Organizational management (dissertation still not completed) with a specialization in leadership, I have developed a leadership training program that is applicable across organizations. The modules take the participants through a series of plug and play power point courses wherein leadership is developed at the beginning with the candidacy and then is continued to be taught to the point of director orientation. As the association you supply director orientation but I can certainly help you with the process of developing and defining this critical module- please view the association services page for details.

The Leadership Training program is in the final stages of development and will be launched in the market on August 1st.  Here is a sneak peek at the program.

1) Self-Awareness- why are you running for the board of directors?

2) Personal Mission Clarification- A must have process for transparent elections

3) Critical Differences- Leading versus Managing

4) The Theory of DAC- Direction, Alignment & Commitment

5) Generative Thinking- how to strategically lead your association

6) Role Play- a lesson in how various roles interact in an effective board

7) Evaluation & Assessment- two underutilized tools and why the board should be using them

8) The Association Evangelist- the most important leadership role (the duty to self-perpetuate)

Add on modules

1) Officer training

2) Second Year in

3) Leading in your Third Year on the Board

Finally if you would like to be added to the mailing list for information on the Leadership Training Program simply email the association yoda at


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