Most of us played “follow the leader” when we were kids and that seems to be one of the games that go away as we grow up… or… is it?

I have interviewed many leaders in our association over the years, including local and state presidents, directors, committee chairs and others that became involved simply for a specific event or task.

One of the things that all of them have in common is that someone they knew and respected originally took them to a meeting whether it was a general membership meeting, a committee meeting or an event and then said, “you need to join a committee, you’d be great!”

There are basically three kinds of people in any organization:

  1. Those that stand on the sidelines and watch things happen.
  2. Those that get involved and make things happen and
  3. Those that report on what just happened (from their point of view).

There is nothing wrong with any of these roles and people tend to migrate to the area they are most comfortable with. In most cases, people will congregate in the area where their friends and colleagues are.

The common issue that occurs to those in group numbers 1 and 3 above is that they only have a perception of how the association operates because they are not actively involved in any leadership role. Sometimes, their perceptions of what can or cannot be done or whose responsibility certain things are within the association are misguided and uninformed.

It’s usually not until someone reaches out to an individual in the organization and suggests that they consider getting involved that they do. This is also typically when the individual begins to really understand how the organization operates and works from a “boots on the ground” perspective.

I cannot count the number of leaders I’ve interviewed who admitted to me that they had a total misconception of how the association was run until they became personally involved and began to understand the real deal. Many had some sort of belief that there was a “back room” group that decided everything and no one on the “outside” would really be allowed any meaningful contribution.

The truth is that it’s really pretty simple and there is no “back room” group. Most of that rhetoric comes from those in group number 3 above who choose not to get involved, but rather prefer to stir a negative pot. Here’s a clue: Anyone who tells you how wrong this article is belongs to group number 3; think about it.

So, here comes the big JC Melvin close: It’s good for you, and it is good for your business (like making more money) when you choose to become involved with your association. If you have not yet joined a committee, all I would suggest is that you find one for the upcoming year to join. It could cost you as little as 15 hours for the entire year and may, at the same time, change your life!

If you have already served on a committee or two and found that you were not that excited about it, try a different committee. Find one that focuses on something you’re passionate about and give it a try.

I’m hoping to see you at a general membership meeting, the installation dinner, the CE esta Cruise (Oct. 4-11th, 2014), or maybe just in a class at the association.

Follow the Leader can still be a fun game… You just have to play it with the right people!