Tuesday, February 24, 2009

secretary or chairperson?

I received this email today from my friend Diane:

Hi, Just to let you know that you are the new Secretary for Congregational meetings.
Thanks for standing for that position.

I had to leave our church AGM Sunday before the elections, but I let my name stand. I have agreed to be the secretary for next year's AGM, and for any other special congregational meetings that are called between now and then. It's a small job, but one that needs to be filled. I am happy to be able to help.

I have been secretary for a number of organizations over the years, and I like the role. Recording the proceedings forces me to be very attentive and to think about the most important aspects of the business being conducted. I also get to do a bit of steering if things are getting so murky I can't follow well enough to record. Usually, I'll ask a clarifying question: "So, have we agreed to do XYZ? and who will be taking what actions?" When it works well, I support whoever is facilitating the meeting if that person is struggling to keep order. People may tune out the chair, but they usual stop and be clear and polite if the secretary asks for clarification.

I have also been chairperson/president for a number of groups over the years. I think I'm pretty good at that job. Often I am called to chair or facilitate a meeting at work too. I like the challenge of leading the group through the agenda, making sure people are all heard, helping the conversation to stay on track etc. It's a good feeling to have a friendly, balanced, productive meeting that gets done on time. When a meeting is unruly, emotional, a bit wild, it's also a satisfying challenge to get the group through it. As a facilitator, I like it when I can move the group into a place of effective communication and help a job get done, despite interruptions, distractions and opposing positions. Finding shared interest is an art. I can't say I'm a consensus-builder, but I can usually get a group to find some common ground and work out ways to keep going with whatever it is doing in an honest and authentic manner.

I've been thinking about being a chair and being a secretary. I find chairing emotionally draining. Even a simple meeting filled with agreeable people can be complex to facilitate. It's hard work, and even though I'm good at it, I often leave wondering if I could have done a better job.

When I'm secretary, I'm confident that I can do a really good job every time. I like the supporting role. I like that the secretary helps to lead without being the main person pushing other people toward an orderly conclusion. I like not being responsible for the list of what needs to get done.

I'm stepping down from a couple of my chairing roles in the next year. Maybe I'll be secretary a bit more frequently. It feels like a secretary-ish time for me. When life's busy and complicated, I prefer being able to take a co-pilot seat and make sure everything is seen and noted, with everyone getting good information out of the event. Sometimes I have to chair, and that's okay too - but right now, given the choice, I'll take the minutes.

question: secretary or chairperson?

mompoet - never, ever, treasurer

No comments: