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You Can’t be a One Person Army

June 27, 2009

This past week, I was fortunate enough to attend ASAE Future Leaders 2009 in Tucson. With only 56 attendees (and 25 of those being a part of the Leadership Academy) – the conference can only be described as fast-paced and intense. We spent 2.5 days with roughly 14 hour days.

To my readers – The Leadership Academy selects 25 young association professionals for a two year program aimed at emerging leaders. We went through an application process to be accepted.

wonder_womanI come from a strong PR agency background, and only have been in the association world for a little more than a year. This can sometimes make me feel intimidated, especially when I’m the youngest person there. At this conference, though, that went completely out the window. Titles didn’t matter. Your experience level rarely came up. It was a conference of brilliant minds coming together to discuss our leadership type, how we respond to change, what we have done that is successful/non-successful. 

An activity that we had to do was read an article titled “Leading the Revolution” – an action plan for transforming companies into industry revolutionaries. The article was written by Gary Hamel in 2000, and talked a lot about innovation. Besides the fact that it was 9 years old discussing innovation (and used Enron as a positive example) it was a good article – besides the harsh “revolution” terms used. 

Gary talks about when you have an idea, you need to first build an “army” of support. It got me thinking: Shouldn’t you have an army of support even when you don’t have an idea? This has really rung true with me since becoming a part of the Academy. My friend Katie and I talked about how we have really become such great friends in a short time – We have only met twice in person, e-mail and facebook all the time, but we have a common bond – and we understand each other. I know that in the association world, I have 24 solid friends that will have my back, will counsel me on issues, will be there at a drop of the hat, and go out for drinks with me whenever I’m in town. To me, the Academy is my foundation in the assoc world. Add in some incredible mentors, and I’m set. 

Since I got gushy, here is my point – You can’t do everything yourself. You need people to bounce ideas off of. You need people that understand your leadership and work style, as well as how you respond to situations. By building an ‘army’ of support, you have people that encourage you and that will help you stay positive during rough issues. They re-energize you if an idea doesn’t go off as you had planned, and they are there to applaud you when you have successes. You can’t do everything yourself. You need that counsel and that connection. Even the busiest of people need an army – and they find time to e-mail or call that foundation of folks. 

A unique idea is to build your army with people not in your sector or industry – make friends with the IT guy. They are completely removed from the industry and might be able to give you a fresh perspective that isn’t pigeon-holed in your industry.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2009 9:54 am

    This post brings me back to my senior year, when on top of my capstone campaign, I was the editor of my school paper and PRSSA’s national newspaper. I learned I could never do all three — and maintain grades, etc. — alone. To remind myself to “use my army,” I changed my ringtone to Lazlo Bane’s Superman (Scrubs theme song). They absolutely re-energize you and give you a new perspective on the situation, helping you maintain a positive environment. Thanks for the good read.

  2. June 28, 2009 9:29 pm

    I think all of us fall into the trap of thinking that we’re Superman or Supermom and can go it alone. Thanks for reminding us that needing the support of others is a sign of strength, not weakness.

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