Whether we meet once a week, once a month, or even online, every club needs leaders in order to implement our mission of improving the lives of women and girls and guide us in achieving our goals.
Leaders are responsible for setting the pace, motivating, and managing. They also have the important task of looking beyond what is happening now and into the future – which should include planning for the passing of the torch to the next person who is taking their place.
Identifying and developing potential leaders for the important roles throughout your club and region is one of the most important legacies you can provide. Having the right people in place is essential for club business to continue to run smoothly and benefits the entire club atmosphere.
An ideal prospective leader should be enthusiastic and knowledgeable about Soroptimist. They should also exhibit leadership competencies – which can take time to develop. And just as honing leadership skills takes time, so does growing new leaders.
This is a process that doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t wait until the end of the year to wonder who will be the next club president or program chair.
The best way to develop leaders is by creating a space where they can advance naturally so they can develop their plans within a supportive environment. To do that, review the following tips and put them into practice. They’ll serve as guide to help create an environment that ensures a seamless transition when new leaders to step into their roles.
Use a “job description. Have a written position description of what is involved. Not only does this let potential leaders knows exactly what to expect, but is will also instill confidence in them when they can see and understand their responsibilities and goals. View the member resources at www.soroptimist.org for several sample descriptions.
Be a knowledge bank. Provide as much information (verbal and written) as you can to give past experiences – both good and bad – as to how success was reached and how challenges were overcome. In a one-on-one meeting, communicate what you know and serve as a resource.
Welcome everyone to participate. Invite others to get involved in a committee or a project. By making a commitment that is not on a grandiose scale, members will be able to get their feet wet and become more comfortable stepping up in the future.
Delegate responsibilities. If you do everything yourself, no one else will have a chance to gain the experience they need in order to become tomorrow’s leader. Plus, by seeing they don’t have to “do it all” leadership positions instantly become more attractive.
Share the wealth. Have co-presidents, co-treasurers, co-chairs, etc. so prospective leaders don’t feel like they have the burden of being solely responsible. Each member can build off the other’s strengths and pick up where the other exhibits a weakness.
Let your light shine. Smile! Don’t be afraid to show your passion and enthusiasm for Soroptimist and being a leader. This type of behavior motivates and inspires others … excitement is contagious!
You never know until you ask. It is often reported that people do not volunteer because no one asked them to do so. The same can be said for leadership. People may not automatically step into a leadership role unless they are approached and simply asked!
Know when to step down. If you stay in the same leadership role year after year, others won’t even think about stepping into (or on!) your shoes. Also, they may see your 5-year commitment and think that length of service is an expectation they can’t or won’t meet.
Transition gracefully. After stepping down from a leadership role, be there to assist with the transition. Provide expertise, guidance, and answer questions. Continue to mentor and coach as appropriate.
Keep all of the above when you are investing your time and energy into grooming leaders. Leadership experiences help members develop and enhance skills to be more effective in their personal, professional and volunteer lives. The joy and satisfaction of serving as a leader is realized with the women and girls we help to live their dreams. Remember, new leaders are not your “replacements.” They are your successors and their success depends on you!
Thanks to Soroptimist International of the Americas Membership Department for this wonderful article!