Serving Your Needs

I recently had a conversation with a leader of a networking group who had approached me for a little help. She had been to one of our 8 Minute Ripples and wanted to discuss how to leverage that sort of participation and energy for her own group.

I started by asking her what she thought her own group was missing. She seemed to think that most of her members had gotten into a funk and were basically bored with the approach their organization had taken for years. Her board was resistant to embrace new ideas or even the hint of possible changes in format, approach, etc.. She must have said a dozen times, “This is the way we’ve always done it.”

She was only serving as the organization’s president because everyone in the board had already done it, multiple times. She felt trapped between a board that was set in their ways and a declining membership who shared no common passion other than the monthly luncheons.

Their organization was broken. I recognized it. She recognized it. But how could we fix it?

I asked her to separate herself from the role of president for a minute. Then I asked her if this organization was serving her own needs? I knew the answer but I wanted her to have to think about it and tell me what she thought. Her answer, as you can imagine, was a resound no. To which I asked, “Why not?”

To say the floodgates opened would be an understatement. Without thinking she just started spewing all the things that were wrong with the group; the format, the unreasonable recruiting requirements they placed on their members and even the difficult registration process that created unpleasant situations at every meeting.

She must have railed on for ten minutes without taking a breath. She had a lot of pent up frustration clearly and it was cathartic to see her get it out.

When she finished she just sat there, blinking. She was emotionally exhausted.

I told her she had a choice. If what she just told me is how she really felt then she either had to commit to change the group’s culture or she needed to step away and go be a part of something that is more aligned with who she is, who she wants to be and ultimately who she wants to be around. She started to protest but her efforts were futile. She was busting her ass for an organization that really wasn’t serving her needs.

Then something happened. A light bulb went off.

She said,”If I feel this way, then imagine what our members must feel like.” As president she could sense from the front of the room that her members lacked excitement and enthusiasm but only now was she thinking what it felt like to be in their shoes for a moment.

She made a decision right then and there to own the brokenness of their organization. She allowed herself to think beyond the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality. She needed fresh blood who would pump new life into this organization to give the members what they deserved. What “I deserve!” she declared.

She was going to make this organization into  something that served her needs as well as the needs of her members by God come hell or high water. She then thanked me profusely and lit out of there like a rocket.

I’ll come back to you in a few months with an update on her progress.

 

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