Combating Apathy Through Good Leadership
One of the biggest problems a local MAG group can face is apathy. As a group Rep it is your job to hold your group together. Sometimes, however, you could be forgiven for wondering Ö ďwhat group?Ē You donít see or hear from some members for weeks and those who do turn up moan that MAG is doing nothing in your area. You end up feeling put upon, taken for granted and unappreciated. You are doing your best, but you are finding it difficult to remember why.
Does any of this sound familiar? If it doesnít, then you are a very lucky Rep. If it does, then you need to work out how the problem arose and what can be done to combat it.
It is easy to forget that MAG is made up of many different types of people, many of whom, in all likelihood, would not have chosen each other as friends except for the common interest of motorbikes and ridersí rights. As such, they make friends, start relationships, fight and fall out with each other.
Other times, a group gets on so well together that they forget to make strangers welcome. In short, they do all the irritating things that the human race is prone to, and donít always consider the effect their activities have on MAG. This is, of course, an incredibly selfish attitude, but unfortunately one we have to live with. (Before anyone complains, please note that the above was said jokingly!).
Of course, while you have to deal with your group, they also have to deal with you. The style of leadership that you choose will have a tremendous impact on your group. You want to develop a style that you feel comfortable with and that will motivate the members of your group to achieve the desired goals.
- Are you people-oriented (concerned mainly with how your members are doing, how they feel)?
- Or are you task-oriented (concerned with what your members are doing, are group goals being reached)?
- Do you place fellowship (camaraderie) high in your priorities?
- Do you feel all the other members should have input in deciding the organisation's goals, or just the group's officers?
- How will goals be achieved? By setting up different committees (e.g. social committee, political committee, fund-raising committee, etc.)?
- Is officer cohesiveness important to you?
However, whichever style best describes you, it is never going to be right for all occasions. A good leader is someone who combines all of these styles and knows when it is appropriate to use them.
It is impossible for you, as Rep, to change the way members of your group act and react to each other. However, by using effective leadership techniques, you can hopefully turn your assortment of diverse individuals into a cohesive team.
Skillful leaders learn to use motivation selectively like a dash of pepper in food. As with so much in leadership development, common sense and simple approaches are usually the most effective ones. The following methods of motivation tend to have "universal" application in most groups:
- Use people's names often. Make it a point to learn the names and connect the faces of the people in your group.
- Actively listen to others. Demonstrate good, open body language. Be courteous/respectful.
- Be fair, honest, and consistent - show no favoritism. Observe with equal care so you can determine which group-members find joy in getting work done, which want praise for a job well done, which need leadership opportunities, and which want to be part of a team.
- Keep members informed - what they're not up on, they're likely to be down on. Survey your membership to see what group members want or need and provide avenues for recognition.
- Build prestige into jobs by giving titles and appropriate authority.
- Give individual attention and demonstrate that you understand members and accept their strengths and weaknesses. Assess the chemistry among those who work together and make the necessary changes to make that chemistry more effective. Create various mentoring relationships within the group by teaming up experienced members with newer members.
- Provide honest feedback - praise their successes publicly, and privately give constructive criticism to help them learn from their mistakes.
- Involve members in goal-setting and decision-making and clarify your expectations of members and their expectations of you.
- Use ice-breakers or team building activities in newly formed leadership teams or committees to energize the group members and strengthen the group. (This means, go forth and paint-ball, or go go-karting!)
- Occasionally serve food at your meetings or have social events outside of the group meeting place.
Since motivation stems from inner needs, drives and goals, the leaderís task in motivating others is to tap into these to supply a channel for their fulfillment.
The individual members must still do the rest