Chapter Leadership Development
While some members are content to support TU through an annual contribution, one of TU’s strengths is that a large percentage of its members are active. Active members translate into strong chapters which leads to strong councils, all of which contribute to a unified, cohesive national organization. Developing active volunteers into chapter leadership roles should be a high priority.
It is important to ensure that your chapter provides an environment that offers volunteers various opportunities to engage with the organization. When a new volunteers comes to a chapter event, does your board have a plan in place to engage them and invite them to take the next step?
Some things to consider include:
- Encourage your current leadership team to learn more about leadership development. Consider using a small portion of your board or committee meeting agenda to highlight a facet of leadership development. Spend some time learning to help guide your team while you engage them in the process.
- Have a plan. Do not let someone slip away because at the time they offered to help, you did not have something for them to do. Keep a list of things that people can always do to help the chapter. Consider a standing committee focused on leadership cultivation.
- Make event attendees comfortable. Designate a volunteer greeter at meetings, but ensure that the membership chair and/or president acknowledges and speaks with all new guests, noting those that may be future leaders.
- Get to know leader prospects. Once you know about their interests and goals, follow-up with them to match that interest to an initial volunteer task for the chapter. Find out more about them and their skills and interests, and look for alignment with your chapter’s goals and needs.
- Keep it simple at first. Realize that often people feel intimidated to take on big tasks when they are new to an organization. Do not ask them to put out the next newsletter right off the bat, instead invite them to help stuff envelopes.
- Provide opportunity with varying levels of responsibility. Effective leaders create an organizational environment conducive to member involvement and the successful retention of loyal members.
Invest in Leadership
To drive leadership and the growth of chapter volunteers, it is important to set a culture where all chapter leaders are contributing, learning and growing together. Here are some of the effective ways to ensure your chapter is supporting and encouraging leadership development:
- Budget for chapter volunteer attendance at regional rendezvous training weekends. Often, new volunteer leaders gain the most out of attending these weekends and come back ready to step into more and larger roles. New leaders can also be tasked to attend and return prepared to share highlights and tactics.
- Monitor and encourage chapter volunteers to sign up for an attend online webinar trainings offered by TU. For example, if a training is offered on membership recruitment, be sure to contact the volunteers planning membership events and recruitment programs to encourage them to register, attend and provide insight at the next related committee or board meeting for the benefit of the team.
- Plan to attend at least one nearby chapter event on an annual basis. Whether one chapter officer or your entire team attends, investing time to go to other chapters and show support and interest in connecting will also pay dividends in new ideas to take home to your chapter.
In addition to fostering a leadership development culture and investing in leadership, your team will also want to intentionally invest energy into a two-pronged leadership recruitment approach which is often lead by the nominating committee.
Identify opportunities to promote your elevated roles within your team so that others are aware that they, too, might step into a leadership position in the future. Highlight opportunities in your newsletter, via social media and in inspirational storytelling from current leaders. When people are more aware of upward mobility, they are more likely to advance.
The second aspect to effectively cultivating leadership is through a targeted approach. Consider a standing committee that is dedicated to identifying, evaluating and supporting leader prospects. As the committee interfaces with the board to identify leadership needs for the next two to three years, the committee can cultivate opportunities to gauge individual fit for specific roles by inviting a prospect to join a committee or lead a special effort.