As Chief Executive Officer of the Party, the Chair’s first task is to realize the higher purpose of the Party and develop a plan to implement it. The Chair position is that of lead motivator, conductor and referee. As such the Chair must take stock of his or her fellow team members, the Party’s resources and the political landscape. Based on these factors the Chair will work with the team to set reachable goals. The Chair should seek to learn about the talents and weaknesses of the officers and volunteers in order to utilize their abilities effectively, placing members and the Party in a position to succeed. The Chair should seek to delegate tasks as much as possible to competent volunteers. His or her primary duty is to supervise and obtain needed resources and provide accountability to the volunteers. The Chair may also lead other efforts, such as meeting with high-value donors, dealing with media requests, building relationships with community groups and interacting with elected officials.
How the Chair chooses to accomplish the Party’s tasks and goals will depend on his or her abilities and management style as well as the skills and personalities of the officers and volunteers. However, ultimately, the buck stops with the Chair.
Some tasks the Chair will be directly or indirectly be involved with include:
Bylaw and regulatory compliance
Branding and marketing
Team moral building
Goal setting and visioning
In addition, the Chair shall preside at all Central Committee meetings and at all meetings of the Executive Committee.
Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised provides the following guidelines for conducting the Chairman’s duties at meetings where business is conducted:
- To open the meeting at the appointed time by taking the chair and calling the meeting to order, having ascertained that a quorum is present.
- To announce in proper sequence the business that comes before the assembly or becomes in order in accordance with the prescribed order of business, agenda or program, and with existing orders of the day.
- To recognize members who are entitled to the floor.
- To state and to put to vote all questions that legitimately come before the assembly as motions or that otherwise arise in the course of the proceedings, and to announce the result of each vote; or, if a motion that is not in order is made, to rule it out of order.
- To protect the assembly from obviously frivolous or dilatory motions by refusing to recognize them.
- To enforce the rules relating to debate and those relating to order and decorum within the assembly.
- To expedite business in every way compatible with the rights of members.
- To decide all questions of order, subject to appeal—unless, when in doubt, the presiding officer prefers initially to submit such a question to the assembly for decision.
- To respond to inquiries of members relating to parliamentary procedure or factual information bearing on the business of the assembly.
- To authenticate by his or her signature, when necessary, all acts, orders, and proceedings of the assembly.
- To declare the meeting adjourned when the assembly so votes or—when applicable—at the time prescribed in the program, or at any time in the event of a sudden emergency affecting the safety of those present.
At each meeting, in addition to the necessary papers proper to that meeting’s business, the presiding officer should have at hand:
- A copy of the bylaws and other rules of the organization;
- A copy of its parliamentary authority;
- A list of all standing and special committees and their members; and
- A memorandum of the complete order of business listing all known matters that are to come up, shown in proper sequence under the correct headings—or with their scheduled times—as applicable.
Sometimes, the job of Chair can be challenging. The Chair needs organizational and administrative skills, diplomacy, sales ability, people skills – while understanding what the principles of limited government and free enterprise are all about. The Chair needs patience, self control, and an ego capable of dealing with criticism and (and occasional abuse) without resentment.
Beyond this, the Chair needs to have good judgment and be an effective listener. It takes creativity to deal with limited resources and a shortage of effective volunteers. The Chair should get as much help as possible from from other leaders, your rank and file membership, and grass roots volunteers. This combination of traits is rare, but they can be developed. If you choose to develop these skills you will be a great asset to the limited government movement.
One can get frustrated. Inevitably, the Chair discovers the job has far more responsibility than authority. The Chair’s real “power” comes from the personal respect he/she receives from the local members he/she works with. This respect must be earned. But when it works, it is incredibly rewarding.
Though most of your members support the principles of free enterprise and limited government, individual members come to organizations with different priorities and agendas. Sometimes this can result in conflict. One key role of the Chair is to resolve conflict and find ways to get people to work together effectively. In some cases, this means mediating disputes. In other cases, it means finding ways to work to find reasonable solutions that satisfy everyone. In all cases, it means making sure people focus on the issues and not on personality clashes when they arise.
Take Your Time and Involve Lots of People
Proposals should be well thought out prior to presentation and implementation. This mean talking ideas over with as many people as possible and listening to what they have to say. It means being flexible enough to change the plan when good suggestions are made.
The Chair should encourage participation and seek the input of others before decisions are made regarding local volunteer work (people work harder for proposals they helped to develop). The Chair needs to understand the “business” of running the organization. This includes organizing events, working with your assistants, dealing with volunteers, occasionally serving as a local contact for the media, and
running meetings. These “details” can undermine the success of an organization if they are not handled correctly. If all of this sounds intimidating, don’t worry. You are not alone.
Tips on Being a Good Organization Chair
- Like most people,grassroots volunteers want to be treated with respect.
- Rank and file members usually want to know why something has to be done.
- Members resist”taking orders”and respond better to being asked to do something.
- Members are very independent and may require being sold on the worth of the activity.
- Members need to feel that their efforts are appreciated and their ideas valued.
- Members respond better to praise and recognition than to criticism and “guilt trips.”
- Since there is no patron age and little money,
success will come only from the energy and creativity of your grass roots volunteers. The Chair’s role is to find ways to make it easier for people to be effective. Find ways to make activism fun and rewarding.
The job of Chair is not for “prima donnas.” The effective Chair does not seek recognition, but instead seeks to recognize the accomplishments of others. The Chair will accept blame for failures, even those of others – Loyalty starts from the top. But the good news is that the loyalty and respect you engender will help you make it through difficult times.
No one is perfect, so it makes sense to work with many different kinds of people. The Chair needs to know his/her strengths and weaknesses, and recruit people with complementary skills as needed.
Finally, the Chair needs a sense of humor. Without it, the job can drive him/her crazy when a lot is going on. Few people are ideally suited to being Chair, but most people can be effective if they understand what needs to be done.