Today I listened to TJ Sullivan (@intentionalTJ) share his message about “confronting the idiot(s) in organizations for about the 7th time. I never mind and always enjoy hearing a “repeat performance” and especially from TJ because I ALWAYS learning something new. Yes, even when I have heard basically the same presentation for the 7th time. Listening with intent to learn, reflect and apply (part of critical thinking) is a lifetime habit of mine – and I love it! Listening to TJ is all the better.
So as a part of the 200 fraternity and sorority members in the audience in the Wright Auditorium at East Carolina University tonight, I listened and learned specifically with my AEE class in mind. Thinking specifically about “Leading and Managing Volunteers” did put a new spin on the topic and gave me new ears for the exceptional and effective program. TJ always leaves his audience with tangible, doable action items to use to follow up with and act on to improve their serve. ALWAYS.
As TJ spoke, I remembered and reflected on a reading about core competencies of volunteer administrators. Nothing was shocking, most of which I already knew in my heart from common sense, previous studies and from anecdotal experiences. They included a variety of factors in groupings labeled Organizational Culture, System Leadership and Organizational Leadership. The best news is that TJ addressed most of these competencies in a way that made me remember and immediately apply. Most of all he addressed the act of confronting idiotic moves by organization members and how we (the audience) could really do the much needed act of confrontation.
Knowing Organizational Values will help members gave a proverbial hat to hang their opinions on and a framework from which to base their actions. Organizational Values at their finest show up clearly in Organizational Culture, daily behavior, and System Leadership while serving as motivators for membership success through ethical aligned decision-making.
In TJ’s words, “We sadly allow for behavior among our members that we would never allow in a work or family environment, simply because we don’t want to make waves by confronting the behavior. ” Idiots – everyone has got them – and if you think your group doesn’t have one then it is probably YOU! 🙂 UH-OH!
To confront the idiot, tonight I learned anew that one on one is probably NOT the best way to do the confrontation. Instead, two on one, and with the actual confrontation done by the person most closely related as a peer (not a superior) to the “offending idiot”. Practicing the confrontation is key as well. Finally, telling the personal story of how the “idiot’s” behavior is affecting my own life is the safest and most effective story to tell.
Thanks TJ for teaching me again. I think I will be better at addressing concerns in my own organizations and also at making sure I do the best and most responsible job at addressing “those people” in the agency with whom I volunteer, should they appear during my tenure there. At the very least, I am starting to take notes about and practice the confrontation skills you shared tonight. Who knows when I might need to look in the mirror or teach someone else your proven practices too!