Saturday, January 9, 2010

Importance of Rotating Leadership

For many of us that have become involved in this wonderful hobby, local homebrewing clubs provide inspiration and collaboration with other homebrewers in your area. I find that attending monthly club meetings helps give me ideas for future brew sessions, provides me with useful feedback on my beer, allows me to interact with others through club events, and gives me a chance to reconnect with friends. Over the years, I have come to value the friendships I have established with fellow brewers in our club almost as much as the art of brewing itself. The values of clubs are many and if you have not become a part of one, I strongly encourage you to look into it (see the AHA club directory for more information).

A homebrewing club is only as good as its members. The members that drive and organize the club make up the club's leadership. Instituting revolving leadership roles withing the club helps refresh the club and shares the burden of organizing events. The topic of rotating leadership within the club is currently under discussion in my club, the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale (CAMRA). Two friends and I founded CAMRA three years ago because there had not been a functioning club in our area for more than 10 years. Since its inception, we have worked to build CAMRA into a self-sufficient organization, being very careful to allow it to grow organically. We intentionally did not establish a strict structure for the club, or lock in its goals or intentions. We were looking for the club to define itself, rather than have us define it. This guiding principal has made things difficult at times, given the club's flexible nature, but I think the effort has been worth it.

Our intentions are to push for club leadership elections in the near future, if we can manage it. We believe this is important for several reasons, including:
  • Getting new energy and insight into the club,
  • Fostering shared accountability amongst club members,
  • Allowing leadership to become independent of the founders, and
  • The simple fact that we need a break from work associated with leading the organization
When we put the issue before the club membership last week, it was met with a general lack of interest. It generated some discussion, but I am not sure there is much interest in running for the positions. We are certainly not going to make this an issue that the club will disband over, but I feel that it is very important for the club's growth.

What are your club's leadership rotation policies and how important do you feel they are to overall club health? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

A few ideas that you could take to encourage rotating club leadership, include:
  • Ensuring that your club's bylaws include set periods for new officer elections,
  • Setting term limits for specific officer roles, such as limiting the president to only serving two terms,
  • Establishing a steering committee to guide the club rather than relying on one or two individuals.

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