Friday, August 23, 2013

Standing in my Power

This week, I held my last Board meeting as President of the Virginia Mediation Network (VMN).  It was a bittersweet moment giving me a chance to reflect back on all we had accomplished and the chance to say: "What's next!"

I remember the first meeting I conducted as VMN President, in October 2012.  I arrived frazzled and exhausted after staying up most of the night reading all the copies I could assemble of the minutes of past-Board meetings.  I was trying to find the loose threads that I might need to follow or tie up.

Then I turned my attention to my Dad's very old, yellow-stained, version of the Robert's Rules of Order that he had used as President of some professional organization a long time ago. I was trying to learn how to conduct the meeting the next day.

I was overwhelmed, but worked hard to be ready for the trust my tribe had placed in me.  As part of that personal growth of trusting myself and earning the trust of my tribe, I had:

  • Attended a week long training at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro that made clear-- through a 360 feedback process -- the support I had from all my Board members.  That experience gave me the confidence I needed to face the challenge with more courage and calm.
  • Gotten training in a group facilitation method called Appreciative Inquiry that proved so helpful later on.
  • Exceeded all my expectations by planning two conferences for VMN involving over 40 speakers.
  • Launched a strategic planning process for the organization.
  • Interviewed all 12 of the current Board members using an hour-long Appreciative Inquiry format and then interviewed about 10 of the past-Presidents.  In doing so, I learned more about my colleagues, the history of the organization, its ongoing challenges, and my colleagues' dreams for VMN's future. 
  • Wrote four President's Messages, appearing in the VMN newsletter, that were intended to inspire our members;
  • Supported my colleagues on the Board, as needed;
  • Mastered the essential parts of Robert's Rules of Order after reading them another three or four times;
  • Nearly mastered a web-based work platform called TeamViewer;
  • Mastered the Doodle meeting planner platform; 
  • Worked collaboratively with my President-elect, who has also become a close friend; and 
  • Encouraged the women on the Board to "lean in" and "stand in their power."
One of the most interesting comments coming out of the interviews I conducted with past and current Board members was this.  Many said that they had not thought they could serve until someone asked them to do it.

That was certainly true for me.  First, VMN's leaders asked me to serve as Conference Committee Co-chair and then as President. Thank Heavens they had more confidence in me than I had in myself at the time. (Perhaps our new law students feel the same way.)  

After this experience, I won't wait to be asked to serve.  I will look for those opportunities.  I thank my VMN colleagues for letting me learn these lessons about my leadership capacities.  I love you, and I love our tribe. 

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