It Doesn't Belong to You

I've been in a few meetings recently where association staff members spoke of their employer as if it was "their" professional association and volunteer board members who acted as if their seats on the board are something they own in perpetuity.  Nothing unusual about either of these circumstances, and I believe almost all of the people involved are good people with good intentions.

That doesn't make the stranglehold they are trying to apply to what gets done and how it gets done any more palatable though.   It's tough being an association staffer as you have to own the outcomes of projects and services you rarely get to control directly.  And board members often fall prey to a sense of entitlement after what often has been many years of dedicated service prior to reaching the board.

I've always felt that a unifying element for both board and staff members is the fact that while we have to care and act like owners of the organization, we ultimately are renters, temporary stewards  of the organization's management oversight.  Ultimately the members rightfully "own" the organization and all its efforts.  

Like the best of renters our role is to take good care of the place while we inhabit it, make improvements we will leave behind and never get fully reimbursed for, and clean up the place appropriately before passing it on to its next tenants.   

That simple.  That difficult.

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