There are many places for leadership in your association. It’s one of the things that make associations in general great! But sometimes because of all of those leadership positions one falls through the gaps and there’s an oversight, a committee without a chair, an event without a point person, a meeting without a main speaker. It’s a fine line, though, in associations to point out a gap in leadership without assuming all of the duties yourself. Here are the first things you should do in case of a leadership emergency:
1) Start with the most obvious solution
If you’re familiar with Occam’s Razor, you’ll know that often problems need not be overthought. Often the answer is the simplest one. Why is there a gap in leadership? Is the current leader struggling with balance of work, home, and association life? (Arguably, that might be the #1 reason association leaders may come up short.) Perhaps a temporary issue is causing the holdup: a cold, a vacation, or even at this time of year, tax time or snow days. Perhaps no official leader was ever named. If it’s a simple problem like that there could very well be a simple solution that doesn’t require a lot of time, vetting, and voting like a new leaders would. The “why” behind a leadership gap will not only help you solve it, but it’ll prevent problems from cropping up in the future.
2) Brainstorm a backup plan
Say it’s not a simple problem, or that the simple problem is such that the leader has to step down entirely. What next? Before you bring other people into the fold, take some time to think of a solution on your own. This serves a few purposes: it makes you look like a forward thinker, it could prevent you from assuming all the dropped details yourself, and it presents a solution, or at least a partial one, to the leaders who are already in place (who will thank you for it!) Don’t worry, you don’t have to have everything figured out, but a few suggestions for next steps are a great place to start.
3) Run by a close circle first
Before you present the issue and your possible solutions to a larger group like a leadership team, committee, or board or someone powerful like a CEO or President, pick a few friends’ brains first. Outsider perspective can be a big help and show you the big picture, and you never know how you can solve a problem without the need for bigger leadership intervention.
One final word of caution: don’t be shady. Definitely don’t rush to point out gaps in leadership without at least considering these first three steps, but also don’t sit on that information for too long. What’s your association already focusing on? Is this a critical issue at this time? Perhaps it’s wiser to bring in leaders earlier in this process when it’s something time-sensitive like an event. However if you come to the board, the management staff, and members with a thought-out problem, cause, and at least partial solution the one with the future in leadership with be