If you have not seen Sheryl Sandberg’s Ted talk on needing more women leaders; it’s quite powerful. She is starting a movement to keep women in the workplace and grow our presence on boards and in the corner office. Sheryl urges us to keep our foot on the gas pedal and lean into opportunity as men more commonly do. I think her work is fantastic and quite compelling. But I would argue that it’s not just women that are quietly leaning back.
Associations with aging boards have problems getting volunteers to lead projects. In boards and committees with too many members people often hunker down assuming someone else will lead, speak or volunteer. For association staff with little connection to the association’s mission this may be just another job. Whatever the reasons some of us are clearly not leaning in. There are two solutions:
Don’t leave before you leave
Here’s an idea that I’m borrowing from Sheryl. Don’t leave before you leave. Once upon a time we were excited to sit on the board, be part of the staff, volunteer for a committee. Don’t let the challenges of life make you stop raising your hand and seizing opportunities. Give it your all until it’s time to leave. Sheryl says maybe not grabbing a promotion two years ago will leave you bored two years later. For me I just don’t want to let myself down. I don’t want to look back and wish that I had tried something or feel I could have worked harder or done better.
Nurture the engaged
Do you have someone who is energetic, volunteers, is hard working and has lots of ideas? Take great pains not to squash them. Instead figure out more ways to let them be more involved. Break down barriers to success for them. Champion them and their ideas. Find ways to identify people like this and make it easy for them to step forward. Smooth their path!
Let’s not let ourselves down or our peers down. Can you think of more ways you can lean in?