Have you Set the Table for Leadership? Five Simple Steps

dining tableI recently read two posts in a facebook group I belong to one was Why Mission Statements Suck and the other was Looking for Great Leaders and was an advertisement asking members to run for the board of directors. These both caused me to pause and think about setting the stage or setting the table for great leadership to happen. As I have stated previously leadership is an “act” not a characteristic. This act of leadership occurs when a body of followers are given Direction, are Aligned with the directive (mission) and are Committed to the directive. It is called the theory of DAC (Drath, 2008). If you are as curious as I am this link is to a wonderful analysis paper of DAC.

So just how do you set the table for incoming leaders and ensure that DAC can happen? Here are a five simple steps that may help:

  1. Do your potential leaders understand the mission? Send it to them! As many Association Execs can attest simply putting the mission statement on everything including the agenda does not guarantee awareness of the mission.
  2. Ensure that your mission statement is truly your mission- as a business league, your trade association has a singular mission “to improve business conditions”.
  3. In the pre-election packet you send or presentation you conduct make sure that those who are running understand this is the mission- not better CE or implementing MLS rules that benefit their brokerage
  4. Their job is to align the members with the mission. Do your nominees understand that in addition to the fiduciary duties they are to become evangelists for your board and your PAC? PACs are specifically formed to influence the legislative process to better business conditions for the members. Explain this to them in a simple one page/one slide statement.
  5. Help them form in their own mind and articulate why they are running for a board seat. A simple IPhone video camera can be used to film a leadership interview- give every nominee the same 5 questions and film them- distribute to your membership via email (you should see your election participation rise if you do this). Here are your questions:
  • How do you relate to the mission of the organization? (Why is the mission important to you?)
  • If elected how will you further the mission?
  • What skills do you bring to the mission?
  • How will you ensure board alignment to the mission?
  • Is there anything you would like to add to this interview?

Make sure they all have the interview questions at least one week prior to filming. Some may drop out of the race after reading the questions- that is okay. So often we send out biographies and a long list of the nominees’ committee work and designations- while committee work and designations may signify commitment to the organization and/or the industry they ARE NOT filters for leadership; they are filters for followership. As association executives we need to quit training members for one thing and asking them to act for another.

And for the curious among you- yes this is my formal dining room and it is always ready for company!

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