*Excerpt from Vincentian Life: Council
Officers are servant leaders and should strive to put the good of the Society, Councils, Conferences, Vincentians, poor and benefactors above their own. True servant leadership is a sacrifice given to God for the blessing of being able to help in service to his poor. What greater role model than Jesus. “And he that will be first among you shall be our servant. Even as the son of man has not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as redemption for many.” (Matthew 20: 27-28)
Officers should seek out knowledge of responsibilities from training resources and guidance from the Society. The National Council has developed many resources for helping officers to understand their roles better. These resources can be found on the National Council members’ website under various Organization & Membership categories: Governance, Leadership Resources, Servant Leadership, and many more.
Training programs such as the Ozanam Orientation, Servant Leadership Workshop, and the Governance for Councils and Boards DVD have also been developed.
- Officers need to recognize their limitations of knowledge and experience. Unless they have similar leadership and business background, it is difficult to step into the position that is controlled by complex issues in all areas. Our leaders are chosen because they are wonderful spiritual Vincentians willing to take on the responsibility of being a Council President.
- Some of them have not had knowledge, training or experience to operate the complex business side of our Society.
- They do the best they can.
- One new Council President said, “I don’t know anything about a budget for a business. I haven’t even made a written budget for my own family.”
- He recognized his weakness and asked for help.
The real problems are: we don’t know that we don’t know and we ask for help too late. Help is available. The National Council has sponsored a mentoring program for Council Presidents and Chief Executive Officer/Executive Directors. Contact the National Council office or check the National Council website for information about this.
Seek Expert Advice
With the recognition of limitations, experts in the required fields of knowledge should be sought. Some of the areas are budgeting, taxes, EEOC, hiring, labor laws, accounting, insurance, legal matters of all kinds, personnel policies, pay scales and many others. There are willing helpers in every community. Make the effort to seek them out.
No Surprises (Transparency)
Good Vincentian leaders try very hard to build consensus before acting on significant issues. A cardinal rule of all business and even in life is, NO SURPRISES. Tell the facts as early as possible to those involved before the crisis decision time arrives.
No Lone Rangers allowed. An election should not turn over the management of the entire Council to the new President. The President doesn’t know everything and the President doesn’t do everything. The President must keep all of the members involved. This is NOT a personal ministry. Over the years, many Conferences and Councils have failed, many have folded, and many members have been lost because of the effects of a Lone Ranger.
No Absentee Presidents
If you accept the position of responsibility, you owe it to the Council and the Society to be actively involved locally and at required meetings in the Region and at the National level. If you don’t want the entire responsibility don’t just accept a couple of areas that you like. The President is expected to be present and involved throughout his/her term. This also means NO Snowbirds.
One of our primary responsibilities of leaders of a Council is to leave the Council in as good or better condition when our term is up as it was when we became the leader. There is much more work to be done long after we are gone. We must do our share to be sure our Council is there to do it. This also includes the President making every effort to nurture future leaders in the Council. There is no automatic succession in the Society, so this means that the concepts of leadership should be regularly promoted.
In the chapter on Conferences, mention was made of two special concerns: President’s term of office and inappropriate appointment of officers. Both of these conditions come into play at the Council level as well. The Council is not only to monitor this at the Conference level but within itself as well.