Have you given leadership a try and decided you would rather walk on a bed of nails than do it again?  Maybe you would rather be on your own doing all the work like a lone wolf, or just be on the committee as a foot soldier?  I’ve done all these things, so I’ve seen each perspective. 

Sometimes the issues facing a leader can be numerous and come up unexpectedly.  Maybe your committee members don’t listen to each other at all, only want to have their own opinion heard or are completely lax about being on time for a meeting, or then again, sometimes don’t show up at all without any warning.  It’s a little easier to encourage people to show up for a committee or board meeting if it’s part of their job, but it’s a whole different ball of wax if you are dealing with a volunteer organization.

I have a much deeper appreciation for leaders since I chaired a committee of a bunch of theatre folks…talk about herding cats!  Being able to deal with different levels of commitment to coming or being on time, and keeping focus without appearing to be rude or too abrupt (both of which I’m sure I was at one point or another) is only a small part of what’s required.  Other gifts that come in handy is being a people person, being a diplomat, dealing with emotions and occasional hurt feelings, all while still keeping folks on track, keeping them engaged and excited, and coming back again and again.

Feel impossible?  So what can you do to be a good leader?  Bringing your own peace, joy and a feeling of calm is certainly helpful.  Also, don’t take offense easily, let others have their say and then be willing to gently, but firmly, bring them back to the subject if you can when they veer off.  Sometimes just repeating their concern or point, “…so what you’re saying is…” will have them feel heard and if you add, “that’s a great question…or point…” it will make them feel appreciated.

After all of this are you saying…never mind…I think I’ll stay off of committees altogether?  Are you happy to just work in the trenches and not volunteer to be the leader?  You know, you CAN be a great leader.  Just be calm, be organized, be prepared, be kind, and be ready to work.  Focusing on the good of the project while appreciating all involved makes everyone feel good about their commitment, the process and the outcome.


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