It might seem a bit strange to be actively recruiting for your own replacement for the job of chamber director.
(I'm retiring in September to fulfill a family obligation and return to what I really love to do: write and teach writing.)
But of course I want to see the best person get the job. And besides, I'm only spreading the word. I won't be playing any other role in the process - that would not be appropriate.
But I've worked hard to follow the mandate I received five years ago to "take the chamber to the next level" and now I want to see someone else take it a higher level.
So our executive committee is seeking someone to take the job. You can read more about it here.
People have asked me what I think it takes to do the job. There are many requirements: The ability to communicate, a love for the community, a whole lot of energy, a vision for the future and mental plan for how to get there, and an understanding and experience in economic and workforce development.
Other pluses are experience in the very unique world of non-profit organizations, an understanding of accounting and budgeting, and an appreciation for the way government functions.
But what it really takes is the ability to get along with people and keep your cool. In this job, you've got to be able to listen to people and give credence to their ideas. Because ideally, you must function as both a team member and a leader. You can't have your own way all the time. Your own ideas have to take a backseat sometimes, and you can't feel bad about that. You have to acknowledge that it doesn't matter whose ideas get the job done, as long as the job gets done.
You have to be a "we" person, not an "I" person. Toot someone else's horn, not your own.
Keeping your cool is equally important. People often vent to the chamber director. Let them. Listen and sympathize. If you can fix the problem, fix it.
Mistakes happen. You make them, staff makes them, members make them. Don't point fingers. Don't get upset. Fix the problem.
At the US Chamber's Institute for Organization Management, instructors will tell you that another priority is to protect your organization. The ability to scope out potential problems and traps is a huge plus - for anyone in leadership.
When I was a department manager at the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, I worked for a very savvy and wise man name Duanne Swift. He once told me that the best thing about chamber work was being able to look back and see where you've made a difference.
Someday, that's exactly what I will do. Meanwhile, it's time for someone else to take the helm. And make a difference.