Some Thoughts on Getting Elected to ACB Boards

by Doug Powell

(Editor’s Note: Doug Powell is a newly elected member of ACB’s board of directors.)
I have been heartened over the past few years to see people are taking the initiative to run for ACB board positions at the convention. In the interest of encouraging members to aspire and obtain national offices, I’d like to dispel a couple of myths and suggest approaches that might help you on the way.
Myth #1: “They’ll elect any young person since they keep promoting the need for young members.”
Yes, ACB is committed to being a vibrant, growing organization. Attracting and retaining young members is certainly an important aspect of that growth. But I also assert that the membership is looking for candidates to board positions who have proven themselves as experienced, trustworthy, and accountable in some way at the national level. If you have held a board or officer position in a state or special-interest affiliate, that’s a good step for those on the path to leadership, but from what I have seen, you may be disappointed your first time out. I hope you will take heart and patience from the fact that I ran three times successfully for the board of publications, and twice unsuccessfully for the board of directors before being successful this July. You may not need the long path I have taken; if you follow the suggestions below, it might improve your chances.
Myth #2: “They’ll never elect anyone who isn’t already part of the club.”
Most of us have met or had to deal with people who don’t seem to want to relinquish their role and their influence on who else has other leadership roles around them. I believe these folks are a minority, and an aspiring leader can usually work with, and win over, those people perceived to be in the way. My assertion is that an aspiring leader’s perception of the term “member of the club” is, many times, a misunderstood concern of the veteran leader for a demonstration of qualities of “experienced and accountable” from the newer leader.
What follows is not a series of official guidelines, nor a foolproof road to successful election.  They are my personal observations on what seems to work.
·      Ask someone to become your mentor or champion. The individual can shorten your learning curve and help you avoid pitfalls.
·      Look for, and take advantage of, any leadership training opportunities that are offered.
·      Look at the list of ACB committees and task forces to see if you have an area of interest to which you would like to contribute your efforts. Then, see if you can attend their phone calls and meetings to see if it is a team on which you would like to serve. If so, contact the committee chair and ACB president Kim Charlson and ask if you can join the committee or task force.
·      Investigate whether one of ACB’s five strategic initiatives aligns with your skill set and follow the same process as the suggestion above to join that team.
·      Please don’t approach your service at the national level as a “resume builder.” Look for opportunities to work and be accountable for whatever you take on.
·      Even if your ambition is to serve as one of the five office holders, you probably won’t be elected to that office without serving on the board of directors or the board of publications first. An attitude that will gain you respect is one where you are willing to serve in whatever capacity the organization needs at the moment.
·      Don’t try to play the politicians’ game of being all things to all people. In other words, don’t tell one group one thing and another group exactly the opposite. Even if a group of people doesn’t agree with your position on an issue, you will gain a better reputation telling people the truth and engaging in respectful dialogue.
Thank you for your interest in becoming a leader in this wonderful membership organization.  I hope these thoughts will help you on your journey.