There are a lot of injustices at work:
- Pay inequities
- Inhumane policies
- Popularity contents
- Extreme competition
- Jockeying for position
- Criticizing and belittling
- Biased adherence to policies
- Downsizing, rightsizing, and layoffs
- Managers taking credit for subordinates work
These behaviors are exhibited at various levels of intensity in many organizations and seem to run rampant in some industries. When professionals spend their days immersed in exploits like these, they may find it natural to bring them into the association. When we let that happen, leadership roles become a popularity contest, criticizing or bullying may be considered mentoring. Young professionals see the organization as cliquish, and members may get harassed by other members.
Association professionals want the opposite. We want to build a community and foster collaboration. We sometimes dare to hope our membership becomes a professional family.
What do we do when our industry’s culture is at odds with the culture we want to see in our association? Make sure the association’s policies are in place, up to date, and enforce them. But go beyond the bad cop role, and set a good example by modeling kindness, openness, and generosity. Collaborate with the board and committee leaders, so they learn to set a good example too. Intentionally find every opportunity to model the behaviors you want to see in your members.
Some associations are a bastion of kindness in a competitive world. Yours can be too.