I recently read the following from the outgoing President of an organisation of which I am a long-time member. When asked what he found most rewarding about being President he said “I was Treasurer for three years before taking on the top slot, so was fortunate to know how things ticked. Yes, there is the chairing of meetings, overseeing charitable governance and helping steer a large organisation but, in essence, the role of President is about narrowing the gap between staff and Council members and our members and customers. A President is important as it links Council with the Leadership Team and must ensure both parties listen to each other. The President is also there to support fundraising and give projects more visibility.”
When asked what had changed over his time as President he said “For many years, everyone in the organisation worked in silos – there wasn’t enough working together, whether in Council, Committees, different divisions. The new Director General has instilled a new approach and that has made people aware of what others are doing. If you’re always thinking of your own work, you don’t recognise how it can impact on colleagues. But things have altered: cultural change in an organisation is difficult and can take a long time, but already it has yielded enormous benefits.”
You may or may not agree with everything he says but it all echoes my recent discussions with an organisation which is debating some fundamental changes to the “we’ve always done it this way” scenario.The questions always boil down to one conundrum in the end – how can we best serve our members, still listen to the long standing member, include the views of new or potential members and still make best use of precious resources.The answers to this ongoing conundrum for many organisations will mean detailed discussions on the pros and cons of making structural and governance changes.It will also mean setting a strategy which takes notice of all the stressors but which contains only those elements which can be delivered in a sensible and timely way, i.e. affording what you are promising to do.Too frequently organisations over-promise but under-deliver and that is one of the easiest routes to damaging reputations.
A change of personnel in honorary officer roles is often a good moment to pause and take stock so if you are trying to make brave decisions but cannot see the way forward, then I’d love to help by assisting your discussions. Just give me a call and we can get things moving for you.