Note: I started writing this in February 2012 and finished it up with some updated information in May. I can't discuss specifics, sorry for any vagueness. Hopefully this stands on its own without detailed storytelling examples.
Well I've now made myself known to some people who had no clue who I really was. I'm not afraid, I am who I am. They just didn't know who was, they didn't know that I was in their midst. They are the ones who are surprised, not me. I'm an authentic person and I handled myself with integrity and honesty so I have nothing to hide.
As I shared somewhere previously, after the long distance move it felt a bit like I'd lost my identity because I knew who I was but everyone who met me didn't know me. I was a big question mark to them. Some had no use for me. You can't get to know people if they don't open the door and give you a chance. You can go quite some time before thing happen to start revealing who a person is.
Sometimes it takes a problem to make people come out of the woodwork and step up to the plate. So a problem did happen (nothing that our family caused, in fact it was brewing for years before we even moved to this state). At first I wrote some light emails and some gentle face to face conversations to try to get things resolved and to be a the bridge building peacemaker. That didn't work.
Then something big had to happen, a person needed to step up to volunteer to do a job that no one wanted, to handle some big problems. I dreaded the idea of that being me. Sometimes that person is hated in the end. Sometimes you need a person to be just temporary, as with a controversy it seems that always there are some who hate the person or feel they need to hate a person, because the problem itself is negative and they want a scapegoat. I didn't volunteer.
For that situation, my husband surprised me by stepping up to the plate. He has certain personality traits that I think make him perfect for this role. I chose to keep quiet and let my husband do his thing. By doing that I was still "hidden".
At a meeting this week there were things said by others that brought up new topics that surprised me. No one in the meeting was saying some things that I felt needed to be said. So, up went my hand and I said my peace. Most of these people have never heard me talk before. I think I surprised some people with the rational things and facts that I had to share. The next morning we both received a thank you note for our efforts and an expression that the person is glad we moved here.
In my past roles in leadership positions and on teams, especially the work I used to do in my last job, I learned a lot about being diplomatic and using principal based leadership, about facilitating meetings, setting goals, making action plans and working in a professional manner. I did a long term project that was difficult, with a cross-departmental team and won a corporate awared. However that only was possible as the organization had principles that it stood on and it demanded that employees all work with those same values and that we work toward common goals.
I loved my job so much it pained me to leave it when I became a new mother. It was great working with such a thriving company. Actually the stock crashed and problems happened while I was out on maternity leave, so the nirvana that was present before was crumbling. When I went back part-time after my son was born it was not the same place at all. That made it easy to request a leave of absence to mother my son for more time, and in that time, I was happy with being "just" at home, which then helped me make the decision to resign.
In my past role as an elected official in town politics I learned other things, mostly about how to be professional and following Robert's Rules of Order, using a procedure to help keep things organized and to prevent them from becoming a free-for-all chaotics mess. It seemed so stiff and formal which bothered me but it was justified. I also dealt then with things like making the right decisions in light of possible lawsuits and considering union rules and other legal things that muddied the waters of decision making.
I am confident that good things can happen if the group can find common ground and if they can remain professional and diplomatic and realistic. The problem with the organization at present is that the stated mission statement does not seem to be what all members, leaders, people in positions of power and influence, and officers are working toward. Some members are trying to exert their power, control and influence to sway the leadership. Various people who are behind the scenes are pulling some strings. It is nearly impossible to work together as a team if the leaders are not in alignment with the mission statement.
You also can't accomplish things without goals. You just can't work with people who are going in all different directions for different reasons. Throw into the mix that one who is influencing people stands to personally financially profit and it is a real mess. When leaders are not leading but getting in the way it's a serious problem. If the top management is a mess those underneath them can't affect positive change, and certainly the members are even more powerless to try to help fix the situation.
Mediation and negotiation are messy processes which require buy-in from top leadership. If you don't have that, you have a real problematic situation on your hands.
Leadership is about doing the right thing for the organization. Leadership is not about amassing personal power or trying to get people to like or accept you, because leaders have to do the right thing which is not always what your friend or what that person over there wants to happen. It is fantastic when the leaders and everyone involved in an organization are in alignment with the mission statement and goals. It feels good and right and it is personally fulfilling to know that positive things are happening as a result of a group effort. When working at the same goal, a team is stronger than each of its members acting individually. When there is poor leadership or misaligned interests and no common ground it is unhealthy and can become a serious mess.
An organization needs leaders who are visionaries for long term planning, others who can do short term planning, daily operations people who can do the work those goals require, and people good at record keeping and doing administrative tasks to do the many things that are legally required to continue to keep the organization operating as the law states. You need people who are good with finances and others who can plan for future expenses and fundraise (for nonprofit organizations).
Actions need to be in alignment with goals in order to be effective, and wasting time by doing things that are stupid or are not getting the organization to fulfill its goals should not take place lest it waste everyone's time. With volunteer jobs everyone would appreciate leaders who know how to run effective meetings and how to conduct business with the least amount of time-wasting possible.