The A in Leadership stands for …


I just finished a blog posting by Mike Myatt excogitating on how attitude reflects leadership.  Talk about hitting the nail on the head.  We know intuitively that the right or wrong leadership can have a devastating impact on our associations. This is felt all the more at the chapter or component level. Yet putting our finger on the problem isn’t as obvious.

We talk about needing to do skill assessments, training and coaching, and even term limits as solutions. Yet when it comes right down to it – a positive person overcomes most all weaknesses of leadership skill. They tend to attract competition, passionate, positive people. They tend to invite meaningful dialog. They tend to work hard. They tend to be team players and inclusive.  By drawing in individuals with complementary skills and creating a positive work environment, the group is empowered. The leader has led.

Attitude is a game-changer.

So where does this lead us – those of us who are both trying to be good volunteer leaders and those who are managing volunteer leaders?

1) Start talking about the power – no the importance – of attitude in leadership.  Make this part of our leadership training script. Host facilitated conversations or training on attitude. Cover how to test your own attitude – Myatt gives us 5 test questions that are useful.

2) Confront the “elephant in the room”.  Too often groups point their collective fingers at a multitude of reasons why they have failed when the real cause is the negative environment. It is our responsibility as we sit on the team to broach this subject. It is our responsibility as volunteer managers to work with the individual. And if need be, it is our responsibility to remove the person.

I would propose, following on Myatt’s reflection, that very often this negative attitude is the result of a bad habit. We take on the habit of reviewing the negative issues to either appear as empathic or a realist. Soon this becomes a script. So if we confront and then coach, we could actually turn-around some leaders. The key is that we have this conversation.

3) Encourage self-assessment and group assessment for leaders.  This is perhaps one of the glaring missing links in association volunteer programs. I remember upon completing my tenure as chair for the ASAE Components Relations Section Council I asked for feedback and when there wasn’t formal assessment, I openly asked for feedback. I didn’t receive any. Well, maybe I did in that I was selected to serve on another council. But that simply says I was a reliable volunteer not if I was a good leader.

It is important that we ask our teams to rate its leaders and, we in turn, as leaders rate ourselves. The next step is having a candid conversation about the evaluation.

4) Have a positive attitude. Modeling the behavior is one of the most powerful methods of change. As many leadership coaches say leaders may have bad days, but they can’t show it. I’d like to tweak and say that when a leader has a bad day, they show demonstrate how to rise above it. The benefit to being candid is that it becomes a “teaching moment.”

How will you nurture good attitudes?


photo credit: / wolfie01_01