District Activities - Background

Upon joining our District Board, I spent the first year listening and observing.  It was easy to see that the Board does not function well.  I spent several months trying to figure out where to begin the process of improving the operation of our District.

I sent an email to the (then) President and the Vice President, asking them to identify the direction of our District (i.e., Where are we going?).  Neither of them responded to that email.  I later realized that I was asking a question that they could not relate to.

I talked with several Board members; looking for someone who had a grasp on the current issues.  Those conversations went nowhere. There was a palpable absence of leadership.  So I began the process of defining what needed to be done to improve the situation.

Leadership Development - Too many people have told me that they were asked to be on their Unit Board and to take a job (coordinator of something); without any training.  The prior person in that role did nothing.  The Unit President did not understand the responsibilities of the various coordinators.  The implication was that nothing would be expected of the Unit coordinator-of-something.

As I looked more at this situation and spoke with various people, it became obvious that part of the reason that the District Board is so ineffective is that people are not being developed at the Unit level and arrive at the District level without the necessary governance knowledge and leadership skills.

Let's look at this situation from a top-down perspective.  The ACBL is a membership organization - a 501-c6 corporation.  The ultimate goal of membership organizations is the recruitment and retention of members.  To achieve that goal, the organization must deliver Member Benefits; whether real or perceived.

All levels in our organization must be focused on delivering Member Benefits.

Many membership organizations have structured leadership development programs.  Whether the organization is fraternal, religious, community service or self-help in nature, all of the successful membership organizations embrace leadership development.

The ACBL does have handbooks for many of the Unit positions.  These provide a basic outline of the duties.  But our need is both skill development and governance knowledge.

Going back to the delivery of Member Benefits topic, our Duplicate Bridge clubs are the main provider of MB's.  The next level is our Sectional tournaments.  Therefore, the biggest bang-for-the-buck in delivering Member Benefits, is to strengthen the skills of the Club Managers and the Unit Tournament Chairs.

The next tier would be to formalize the education of Unit Presidents so that they understand the roles of the various coordinator positions.

Out of this process, we will find much more qualified individuals to advance to the District Board.

This approach will take several years to accomplish.  However, our District Board enthusiastically supports this proposal, in concept.  When it comes to implementation, there is a road block.

It is the same sort of roadblock that exists in some of our Units.  We have people who have filled particular roles for many years.  They are not developing people to take over their positions. Indeed, they are standing in the doorway and blocking capable people from advancing in our leadership roles.

Our District must support the Units with meaningful Leadership Development programs.


Build for Tomorrow