Show me a successful corporation and I will show you well-trained managers leading those organizations. Being a good manager or leader requires a certain set of skills that most people are not born with, they have to learn over time. Yes, there is a difference between a manager and a leader. A manager makes sure the trains pull into the station on time. A leader decides where to lay the tracks.
Would GE put Joe Anybody in charge of overseeing labor, interfacing with corporate counsel and preparing their annual budget without first knowing if he can perform these tasks? Does Joe Anybody have the skills to negotiate skillfully and tactfully when the workers threaten to walk out? How about the common sense to deal with daily operations?
Corporations for profit understand that managers and leaders are essential to their ongoing existence and they invest in these folks by training them and giving them the tools they need to lead the organization. This got me thinking about the leaders in our not-for-profit corporations, our 55,000+ community associations in the State of Florida.
How much support and training does the State and even the organizations themselves give those leaders? Even when the topic of board member education comes up in Tallahassee as it has the last few years, it comes across a stick rather than a carrot.
There's nothing remotely exciting about being told you have to report for "mandatory training" in order to hold your unpaid position on the board. Being told the State has confidence in your ability to lead your community and evidence of that support can be found in the leadership conference they are paying for you to attend is quite a different message!
Frankly, we need more management and leadership training for board members and less of the statutory drilling we're used to seeing. Yes, it would be wonderful if every board member serving in the State of Florida had a full grasp of the Florida statutes that govern their community as well as a thorough understanding of their own governing documents. Even armed with this knowledge, however, a director without the skills needed to successfully defuse a potentially hostile situation will not be an effective manager or leader. The ability to successfully communicate could be the single greatest asset a director can have and you won't get it by being forced to read the statutes three times!