What is the role of a Section officer in the conduct of operations in the Section and as an officer how will you interact with the staff in the Section office?

According to our Section Constitution, the Board of Directors “shall conduct their business and manage the Section.” Our Section Board is made up of the Immediate Past President, President, Vice President, Secretary and Directors, who shall be Presidents and Vice Presidents of several Chapters. In addition to this structure, we also have a structure within the Section Office. The CEO oversees both the Section Staff and Chapter Staff.

While the Constitution is clear, it is also, I believe, purposely vague. I believe we have a very capable and talented Section staff. They are the team that makes our Section one of the best and most respected in the PGA of America. In reviewing the job description of our CEO/Executive Director, he is the focal point of our operations. A Section officer is a part of the Board of Directors and is ultimately responsible for the operation of the Section.

It would be fool-hearty to assume that Section Officers should play a role in day-to-day operations. I see our roles as three-fold: Champion, Protector, and Trust builder.

I pointed out in last month’s article the importance of having Champions of Change in our Section leadership. Whether it is a change to the “dress-code” or a change to the tournament programs, change must be led. The Section staff, likely will be the implementors of the change, but the Section leaders must be the ones at the end of the pointy spear leading the effort. Any change that is exclusively led at the staff level will ultimately fail.

The Protector role can also be tied to change. Last month I also talked about a compliant decision making versus committed decision making. Section leadership must be fully committed to support the staff who are implementing changes.  Without that, the staff can be targeted and besieged with criticism and defiance by members who do not like or support the change

The last role, the trust-builder, is the most critical role for a Section officer. Trust is the element that holds organization together. It is like glue, but like glue, if it is not used it can dry up. Our Section staff is competent and committed to our success. Section Leadership must trust them to operate the Section daily. Section leadership must acknowledge their successes and encourage them to continue to be successful. Am I not suggesting that operations will always be smooth and rosy. There will be times when there are operational missteps. When this happens, it is critical that the Section leadership trusts that the CEO will manage the issues rather than the Section officers dealing directly with the staff member/s.  Respect for the “chain of command” is essential. The CEO reports to, and takes direction from, the Board of Directors; likewise, the Section staff reports to, and takes direction, from the CEO. To maintain a high level of trust, these lines cannot be blurred.

Board membership changes every two years. This change in membership leads to a change in the team dynamics of the Section leadership. In 1965 Dr. Bruce Tuckman developed a model on team dynamics. He outlined the four stages a team goes through to become a high performing team: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. In Forming, teams get clear and aligned on goals and roles and ways of working together. The second stage of Storming is critical to this discussion. In this stage there can be differences, conflicts, and power struggles between members. In other words, TRUST is in jeopardy. Section leaders must understand these dynamics and use clarity of purpose and coaching to resolve the differences to come to optimum decisions to be able to move on be productive in the next two stages of team development. Changes to members of the Section leadership will also cause the same dynamic to occur within the Section Staff. All members of the Section leadership including the CEO must recognize, understand and work through these stages to build strong relationships and a team that works effectively and productively together.

We have a dynamic, successful Section staff. If I am selected to be your Secretary, I will use my expertise in group and team dynamics to keep us on track and ensure there is trust between the Section Staff and the Section Leadership. This will allow all of us to be aligned as we act, and make changes, to “Support the Members and Grow the Game”.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Oregon Open in late June.

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