Friday, May 13, 2011

Article of Note in Confederate Veteran

Confederate Veteran. Sons of Confederate Veterans. March/April 2011.

While catching up on the reading that has been piling up I came across an interesting and I think important article in the March/April issue of Confederate Veteran. Now before you go rolling your eyes thinking this is another version of the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery or there were lots of black Confederates hear me out. This has nothing to do with those ideas.

Charles Kelly Barrow has written an article in his Report of the Lt. Commander-in-Chief column that I think can be adapted to any member based group that has meetings.

Barrow puts forth the idea that there are no shortcuts to greatness and that officers of the group (in this case local SCV camps) should rather strive for greatness and go the extra mile where need be. Barrow states that leaders should exhibit leadership and guidance to the membership. The desires of the group should be listened to and then action taken to try and achieve these goals. Leaders should know the rules or know where to find answers to questions that arise. As an example for the SCV Barrow reminds us that leaders should have a thorough understanding of the application process. They should also be able to help members complete the genealogical portion of the process. The camp adjutant should handle all dues properly and efficiently.

When it comes to meetings I think Barrow hits on a few key points. Leaders should strive to greet each attendee. Now for very large gatherings this may be unrealistic but lets face it most history meetings are not drawing hundreds of guests. By making new members feel welcome they are much more likely to continue attending and remain members. Continuing members are the life blood of organizations and if newbies don't feel welcome are they inclined to send in that check next year? Also, members have a right to high expectations. Meetings should be held regularly with a standard meeting schedule. When possible meetings should be held at the same location. While you can't please everybody keeping to a schedule helps breed familiarity and build the group bonds.

History groups are about education and leaders play a key role. While leadership may not be the most learned they must take an active role. By scheduling engaging speakers and having interesting programs members will keep their interest level high. We all know that not every Camp or Round Table can afford or would even want to bring in a James McPherson or a Jeffry Wert but that doesn't mean there aren't locals with strong specific area knowledge. Reach out to other local history groups and see what's there. Finally, education is not just for members. It should be the goal of any group to get the word out about themselves. Attend public events, reach out to schools, advertise if possible, etc.  If the public doesn't know about you they can't join you.

While having good leaders is key for a group these leaders are helpless if members are indifferent or more inclined toward petty bickering. Members also have a responsibility in following their elected leaders. Don't like the leader? Hold them accountable. Remove them and run for office yourself.

Anyway, like I said I think these principles can be applied to any hobby group or organization. Just an unusual place to find such recommendations. Well done, Lt. Commander Barrow!

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