Capacity Building: A New Way to Think About Leadership Development

Lori Halley 09 December 2014 0 comments

In our Mission-Driven Webinar in early November, we heard that associations and other membership organizations need to take a new approach to volunteering. We need to think about what needs to get done, rather than focusing solely on volunteer roles and titles.  We also need to understand that generational values and attitudes impact our volunteers’ motivation and level of commitment.

But will those who step forward with the desire, also have the skills necessary to be effective and successful? Some members come primed and ready to lead; others who could be as dynamic and effective just need a bit more support. How we prepare members to be effective volunteers and volunteer leaders can make all the difference.

A New Way to Think About Leadership Development

In the latest article in our Membership Knowledge Hub – A New Way to Think About Leadership Development Raven Deerwater, Ph.D. offers his own personal experience in becoming, as well as supporting other volunteer leaders. He sets the scene by describing his experience attending a state-led leadership training event for local Chapter Presidents:

One of my first actions as President of the North Bay Chapter of the California Society of Enrolled Agents (CSEA) was to attend its Chapter President’s Workshop. I was informed that it would be an invaluable opportunity to increase my understanding of the depth of my new leadership role.

The jam-packed workshop agenda proceeded for six hours from 8 AM until 2 PM. Lunch, the only break, was served in the meeting room. 

...Each CSEA Committee Chair gave a presentation on their committee’s work at the state level and how the Chapters could be of support. Eleven presentations in all!

....We listened for 4 hours straight ... Finally, after lunch and 24 agenda items, we reached agenda item 25E: “Chapter/Member Concerns That CSEA Needs to Know.” Finally the tables were turned. Finally, the state leadership was officially asking for our input and opinions. By that point, most of us were managing information overload and mentally exhausted. But we did our best.

Does this approach to training your volunteer leaders sound somewhat familiar? Or even your own experience? Is this the most we can offer members willing to assume leadership roles?  

This experience confirmed to Raven that, as he suggests:

Associations need to take into account that every member comes into the organization with prior knowledge and experience; including those who assume leadership roles.They become part of a remarkable talent pool. Everyone in this community possesses skills, abilities, talents, and experiences waiting to be tapped and in some cases further cultivated.

What Does a Capacity Building Approach Look Like?

The article, co-authored by Trish Hudson, MPsSc, President of the Melos Institute, explains that associations and other membership-based organizations need to empower their volunteers and volunteer leaders by strengthening and building their leadership capacity. It's also about realizing that some members contribute greatly by serving as leaders/mentors to their fellow members, yet never assume a leadership position.

Raven and Trish suggest that:

Helping members realize their full potential lies at the heart of what associations do. Every program, product and service is designed and delivered with that intention. Much of what associations do every day provides a venue to discover the vast potential that exists within the membership. The least obvious member can become the association’s next greatest and most memorable leader. Capacity Building merely formalizes the many direct and indirect ways that leadership skills are forged within your organization.

Read the full article

You can read the entire article in our Membership Knowledge Hub and take advantage of the Melos Institute’s Leadership Capacity Assessment tool (designed to help identify personal leadership strengths/areas for development on your board or among other specially identified leaders).

Check out the article here:
A New Way to Think About Leadership Development.

Image source:  Building-leadership – courtesy of

Get a Special Report on Simplifying Membership Management

Enter your email and receive this special report in your inbox.
Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Tuesday, 09 December 2014 at 8:30 AM

Get a Special Report on Simplifying Membership Management

Enter your email and receive this special report in your inbox.
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.


About results ( seconds) Sort by: 
Sorry, an error occured when performing search.