It's not a bad thing to feel. It's an emotion you simply need to understand, control, and have the right attitude about. I always say, "You need to run the association as if it were YOUR business, knowing that it is NOT." This is easier said than done for many.
If you want to sleep easier at night, have less stress in your daily work, and want to leverage the efforts of many to increase your quality of life, you need to realize, "it isn't your association and never will be."
Knowing when to FACILITATE the process to empower your members to do the work of the association, is key to leveraging your leaders in doing the work of the association.
Granted, every association has its own persona regarding this balance of LEAD or FACILITATE. Most associations break down into one of the following categories:
- The association is hurting, and your board/leaders give you the keys and say, "FIX IT."
- The association is hurting, and your board/leaders, along with you, "WORK TOGETHER" to pull it out of the valley.
- The association is doing well, and you are doing the work that your board/leaders are charged to do, but never seem to get around to it, leaving you to, "SAVE THE DAY."
- The association is doing well, and your team has a great blend of staff and volunteer engagement to "GET THINGS DONE."
I ask the question of these, when do you "lead the volunteers" and when to you "facilitate the process?"
Remember, it's their association, they have the last say in priorities. An association executives job is not to determine the priorities or make the final decision, unless requested by your leadership. It's your job to present all the relevant facts, potential outcomes and consequences of each, and then let your leadership set the priorities and direction for the association and its initiatives.
I believe that knowing when to lead and when to facilitate is a moving target. Each one of those scenarios above calls for both staff and volunteer engagement in the process. I find too often, many association staff just accept that, "every action that comes from a board or committee meeting, is staff's responsibility to 'make happen'." This is not true.
When the workload gets larger from board or committee initiatives, there are only a couple of choices:
- Current staff just assumes the responsibility
- Hire more staff to take on new workload
- Volunteers step in to help with the process
- Eliminate projects to make room for new ones