How Will I Work with the Board to Develop Successful Programs to Achieve our Mission?

Before addressing the question for this month, I’d like to go back to last month. I was remiss in not acknowledging Marcus. I am delighted to be in the race with Marcus. He is a solid guy and has served this Section as a true leader. When I was considering running for this position, the first person I reached out to for advice and guidance was Marcus. I am looking forward to the next few months on the trail with him.

I believe as Section Officers, working with our Section Board, all that our work must revolve around our Mission and our Strategic Vision and Plan. We have a very robust and effective committee structure in our Section. I don’t believe that as Section Officers, we should be developing “programs”. I think it is important for our committees to initiate, develop and present new proposals to the Board of Directors.  Section officers should have two critical roles when supporting programs: they must be “champions” and “truth Sayers”.

Let’s address the “Champion” role. The committees are the life blood of our programs and the development of new ones. As the programs are developed and refined, they need support to grow and become aligned with our mission. The committee chairmen cannot do this alone. Once the programs get to the Board, Officers need to step forward and “champion” the efforts for implementation. What does this “championing” look like? Being a Champion follows a few principles of “Managing Change.”

  • Be clear and aligned about the business case for each initiative-what are the committees proposing and why. We need to hold that up to our mission: do they support members and grow the game?
  • Engage stakeholders – get input…lots of it and understand the impacts.
  • Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate some more. Our members will all be trying to tune that mythical radio station WIIFM. “What’s In It For M
  • Lastly, ensure there are measures; how will we know, quantitively/qualitatively, that the program is achieving the goals.

As Champions, we must also be “Truth Sayers”.  There are dangers ahead for us if we do not fight against two issues: Complacency and Compliance. Complacency will creep into our thinking if we do not constantly ask the hard questions. But asking those hard questions is not enough if there is not context. That context must come from our strategic vision. We have three tenants listed directly under our strategic vision: first, we must be in constant pursuit of excellence and commitment to innovation, collaboration and improvement.  We must not take these words for granted. As a leadership team, we must be aligned on their meaning. The second tenant, teamwork and talent, are critical to our culture and must be exhibited in our communication, accountability, honesty, trust, and impact. It’s most likely that the people who originally created the strategic plan all understood and agreed to the meanings of these words. But culture, for example, particularly in an organizational setting, can have so many different meanings. The third tenant, commitment to diversity and inclusion is an essential consideration for all activities and programs that the section adopts and or practices that we implement. It’s important what we mean by this. John Skipper, former President of ESPN network said, “Diversity is getting everyone on the same team. Inclusion, is getting everyone into the game.” Section leadership must all understand the words being used.

The danger of Compliance manifests itself in what I refer to as ”compliant behavior”. It’s behavior that we observe often in meetings, where everyone participates, and ultimately agrees to the decision. Then the group goes on break, and you often hear conversations like this, “Can you believe that we agreed like this; it has no chance of ever working.” This is another opportunity for the “truth-sayer.” Compliant behavior can only be countered by constantly testing for commitment. Champions and truth-Sayers don’t have to be the same person, but they are critical roles on the leadership team.

So how do we get to commitment? In group settings, such as Board meetings, ground rules need to be established, agreed to and enforced. A process for how the group will make decisions is critical. We have to decide how we will we vote; majority vote or consensus? Without these processes in place, decisions are too often made where people are not in agreement or alignment. I think each of us has examples when we have been in meetings when we have seen this behavior. Programs cannot be successfully implemented if there is not full support of the Board and membership.

As a Board Officer, to support new programs that support the mission, I will always be looking for opportunities to be a Champion for Change and a Truth-Sayer. I am convinced that having over 20 successful years of experience in Change Management and Group dynamics as an executive and a member of other Boards, I can apply these skills as your Section Secretary to support the Section’s success moving forward.

Howie Pruitt, PGA
Director, Player Development/Head Golf Professional
Aspen Lakes Golf Club
Sisters, OR 97759
Director, Oregon Chapter, PGA of America
2017 Oregon Chapter, PGA of America, Patriot Award Winner