Years ago, I worked for a large corporation whose president knew little about the company’s operations when he took over. What he did know was how to lead. Under his leadership, our company went from being the worst in the industry to the best. He never did learn how to fix a widget.
The same can hold true in the genealogy world. Society presidents do not need to be excellent, experienced family historians. They need to be good leaders. Especially now, with increasing competition from online resources and dwindling membership, genealogy societies need strong leadership.
A society president must know how to manage and lead — in addition to having (or acquiring) good research skills. I also believe that experienced family historians can improve their leadership skills, provided they are willing.
Good leaders want their organization to grow and thrive. They are not satisfied with barely surviving.
In the Leadership Matters blog, I discovered a list of 20 Things Leaders Should Think About Today, compiled by Anne Ackerson and Joan Baldwin. While the list was created for museum leaders, it applies to all types or organizations.
Whether you are the leader of a small team or your society’s president, take a look at the list for what you can use to help make you and your society more productive. Below are a few that inspired me.
1. Know the difference between control and leadership. Recognize that as a leader there’s only so much you can control. Leadership is sometimes about surrender. When have you exchanged responsibility for micro-management?
2. Stop talking. When was the last time you really listened?
3. Are you disciplined?
4. Take the initiative. Don’t be afraid of making a wrong move. When was the last time you took the reins and joined the decision-makers, experimenters and innovators?
12. Focus externally. Read widely. Know what your community’s organizations are doing and thinking, not just its museums. Serve your community. When you matter, your organization will matter.
13. Teamwork requires trust. Think about who’s inside the circle in your organization. Who’s outside? Why?