Lessons from Seth Godin for associations looking for leaders

Out of the mouth of the marketing guru Seth Godin comes a leadership truism worth frequent repeating:

“People want to belong, they want to be missed when they don’t show up.”

Seth shared with Brian Clark in his interview on How To Become A Leader. The full piece actually offers Seth’s thoughts on five questions about the dynamics of tribal leadership (building from his book Tribes). The one that grabbed my attention focused on his “universal truths” many of which have a message for association’s in search of good volunteer leaders. Here are some of those truths and my reflections:

  • People want to belong, they want to be missed when they don’t show up. We need to draw on this desire to belong by asking them to get engaged and then track their involvement with thank yous, acknowledgments, and ‘we missed you at the meeting’ entreaties.
  • Charisma doesn’t make you a leader, leading gives you charisma. We need to look beyond the obvious leaders for those who are in the wings waiting to be drawn out. Don’t confuse strong personality with the ability to lead.
  • Most of all, people care about themselves. We need to acknowledge this and help our volunteers to see how what they need can be fulfilled through volunteerism.
  • Faith is belief in the future and it is critical. Religion is a set of rules designed to amplify faith at the same time it guarantees the status quo. As you can guess, heretics have a lot of faith, but not so much patience with religion. And heretics are the ones who make change. It’s too late to embrace the status quo, so embrace those instead who welcome change because they see a future vision!
  • Transparency is your only option, because the tribe will smell artifice. Everyone needs to know the volunteer career path in your association and clearly how leaders are selected, decisions are made, and policies determined.

Any universal truths or reflections you would add?