Leading from afar

September 17th, 2010 by bebersghost

You have to pity the regional and international boards. They often have great leadership skills, vision, dedication and ideas. Yet they are completely dependent on others to implement those visions. Consider the Grand Aleph Godol, International N’siah, any regional board member for example: they can have a great idea, but to make something happen at the chapter level is challenging. A visitation once a year hardly cuts it. Releases and powerpoints are very nice, but will they be read? Advisors are a mixed lot – and to be perfectly frank, tend (rightly) to be much more concerned with the functioning of the chapter and basic issues than pressing grand visions. So IBoard must rely on their regional counterparts, and the regional counterparts have to rely on their chapter counterparts… well, it’s like the old game of telephone: much is lost in translation.

Regional board members to a lesser degree have the same frustrations. In many cases they may have the title and the glory, but it’s the chapter leaders who have the power.

So what’s a poor regional or international leader to do beyond what they are already doing?

Perhaps, a slight change in perspective may help.

There is a very natural tendency when leading from afar to focus on working with counterparts: for example: the GAG on a visitation might spend most of his time with the regional Aleph Godol and chapter Godolim. The International N’siah might rely on the regional N’siot to communicate with the regions and chapter N’siot.

And I’m not suggesting this is wrong.

But consider this: the regional leaders are busy. They have big jobs. Plus, they are already leaders – top of the heap (so to speak). Even if a program is of great value, promoting it is potentially either a distraction, or more work. To put it bluntly – the personal incentive to promote the international agenda may be limited. So if IBoard comes up with a great program they want every region or chapter to do – it can be a tough sell.

But what if there was some magical way to get that vision or program in the hands, not of the regional presidents, or even the chapter presidents, but in the hands of some young or up and coming chapter leader. Someone who aspires to be chapter president or on regional board?

Now things are different. This program could be the opportunity they are looking for – the one that will get them some visibility – maybe even on the regional level. By adopting that vision, they can establish themselves as leaders. It can be the cornerstone of their election speech! They probably also have more time available to dedicate to the project – since they aren’t currently holding one of the top jobs. And if they might not yet be as skilled as the older members, enthusiasm and commitment can more than make up for that.

This may seem a bit crass. You might think that somehow self-interest compromises the value of the vision or program because there is an ulterior motive involved. But in my experience, when self-interest coincides with positive vision, great things happen.

Right now, much of the leadership at the regional and international level consists of various forms of “push” – ideas coming down from the top and (hopefully) suggestions and feedback coming up from the leaders at every level.

But if there was some mechanism for every member in the order to feel they had the opportunity to directly embrace and execute a program – you might get some “pull” – with these members reaching out to resources, grabbing the ideas an opportunities, and running with them. “Pull” can’t and shouldn’t replace “Push”. But especially given the ability of technology today to flatten hierarchies, one can’t help but wonder what would happen if this was tried.

2 Responses to “Leading from afar”

  1. Reforming a system for the better Says:

    Sure, I agree that the regional gadols have alot on their plate. But is it not their job to make sure that this great program happens? They have the option of delegating the leaders of this program. They can ask whoever they want. In fact, I would argue that they should not ask the upcoming leaders of the organazation. The upcoming leaders are just that… upcoming leaders. Therefore, they have been recognized already for their deeds and if they actually are the leaders people think they are will continue to implement great ideas. It would be much better to delegate the duties of this wonderful program to members who do not have as much say or “power” in this organazation. The members who are not recognized and feel they have no say what so ever are the members who tend to drop out. I beleive every single person should have the opportunity to do something great in this organazation, and the delegation from the regional gadol would be the best chance. These members would then have the opportunity to show everyone what they can do, and I promise they would contribute to the region afterwards, for they now feel that they are important. And I truly beleive that a program should be planned off of an idea that a member or members (more than one member planning this program would be ideal) rather then the self interest of one to better his reputation in this wonderous organazation. The most respected man I know from this organazation was our Regional Gadol freshman year. He made sure he knew everyones name, including all the freshman, which was unbeleivable. In this way, he made it seem that everyone had a role and was important. I know that simple recognition encouraged people to make this organazation better. BBYO is, for many people at least, an escape from their lives. Where they should have the chance to be significant and do something meaningful. And everyone I beleive deserves this chance. So I would encourage the big players to delegate to the members who have never been recognized or asked to do something big for the organazation, and then to delegate another leader to help lead this member thorugh the process. Everyone would benefit from this situation.

  2. bebersghost Says:

    Perhaps if I had phrased it “potential” leaders as compared to “upcoming” leaders it would more closely match my intent – that this approach be used to bring more people into leadership and give them the full opportunity to benefit from BBYO.

    I believe we are in agreement on this subject.

    The Ghost

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