By Debi Williams, AFWA Manager of Marketing and Brand Management
Growing up, I was a Girl Scout. While I hold many amazing memories of this time in my life, there are also several lessons learned that I carry with me. One lesson that stands out the most is the classic Girl Scout rule of camping, to leave a place better than you found it. I have applied this rule to many areas of my life, far beyond camping.
From the small acts, pushing in the chairs around a conference table after a meeting, or wiping down the counter in the public bathroom. To the larger acts, tying up loose ends and leaving diligent notes for my predecessor when leaving a past job, or even the detailed cleaning of my last home when I moved away. Not only are these acts respectful of the people around me, and those who will follow me, but it gives me pride in the work I’ve done and the marks I leave behind.
Think of the time and energy you commit to AFWA when you volunteer on your Chapter’s Board of Directors. What’s the point of all that effort if you’re not ending the year in a better place than where you started? Do you know what mark you’ve left on your position, and are you proud of the work you’ve done?
Whether you’re moving into a new position, or moving off the Board entirely, here are four ways you can leave your Chapter and AFWA better than how you found it.
- Bring something new to the Chapter – be a leader of change: This is the part you can write on your resume. At the start of your term (or even mid-term) identify 2-3 goals that will push your Chapter to new heights in the next year. Work to increase membership or event attendance under your leadership. Introduce a new system that might improve communication or processes within your group. Bring a new program to life or build new relationships with corporate sponsors.
- Be organized and keep notes: Nothing is more frustrating as a new leader than to be given no starting point when you start your new role. Help out the next person who will take your position by leaving notes and guides. This could be as big as a shared Dropbox holding records and templates, or as simple as a one-page document with important contact and access information.
- Identify and nurture future leadership: Who will follow you? No one wants to see their hard work fall apart under new leadership. Identify members of AFWA who will make great leaders and introduce them into your volunteer pipeline. Engage them early and build into their confidence as a leader. In the same way you might mentor young professionals in your office, you can mentor members who will someday become leaders in AFWA.
- Stop talking, but keep listening: Okay, so you don’t really have to stop talking, but you should accept that those behind you want to make their own mark on the organization. Leave your previous role behind to focus on your new one, or move into an advisory role. Most leadership will appreciate the advice and guide of those who have come before them. Leave on good terms, and let your predecessor know your phone line is always open.
So whether you’re just starting a new year or finishing out the current one – plan to end on a high note! Identify something that you can look back on and be proud of. And most of all, know that you did all you could to leave the organization behind better than how you find it.