For most service oriented non-profits (Rotary, Lions, Toastmasters and others) the month of May is the busiest due to elections across the board. The clubs, areas, divisions and districts (and everything in between — only god knows what out there!) actively prepare for a leadership rollover/makeover (depending on which side of the party are you on) for its its continual success and growth.
Some leaders go the extra mile, literally, and start campaigning for themselves. They visit every club, area or division within their reach hoping to increase their influence and have others witness how committed they are as service leaders. I’ll be honest, some of them really are good. But most suck.
The big shift surfaces right around the corner — two to three weeks before the elections. The candidates start sending promotional emails and posting on socials. It’s just crazy! And I’d say all that is fine. Just one little thing.
Who the hell are you? And Why do I care? What does voting for you mean to me?
I don’t see the purpose for asking for “support” or “votes” from members of the community or even strangers (who may have just joined the organization) when the one seeking favor is quite unknown as a person, let alone as a service leader.
As a leader, I believe you can’t remain hidden for long, especially if you really mean the “service” part of service leadership. It’s not about the election. It’s not about the vote. It’s always about your intent. To lead, serve and to help others grow. The keyword here is “others.” Not you.
What I’ve observed over the past few years is a spike in interest for people to contest for these “leadership” roles. Sure the status and respect (all of which is totally uncalled for, most of them at the top are jerks at some level) is quite admirable, but I think the perception is that it also adds value to the resume.
Here’s the cold hard truth: it does not. All it does is bloat your resume up.
These roles just add value to your life’s experience. And that’s it. Of course, how you use the opportunity to enhance your experience is totally your prerogative. Some prefer to attend conferences or events to learn. Some show up hoping to boost their network, thinking that would directly impact their net-worth (it won’t, trust me). And then some aspire to increase their own influence or perhaps just get an ego massage.
Lots of options. To each, his own. But is the experience worth it? I can’t tell. Everything essentially boils down to how you want to enhance the experience.
Guiding your ship in the right direction is your responsibility. And as a service leader your number primary responsibility is to help others grow. Period. If you start measuring your actions with that scale, YOU WILL GROW! That’s how it works! But, it’s never about you.
And that’s precisely what annoyed me to the core during the election time. These candidates had the gall to ask for my vote, my time and my support without even taking the time to know their audience, their challenges, expectations and most importantly support.
How exactly does all of that work? Beats me!