Is there such a thing as an Ideal committee person?

By John Kemp CMDip

Working in golf it was my pleasure to organise events and training dedicated to club boards and committees. At those workshops we asked attendees to identify the traits of great committee people and what makes them so suited to the positions they have.

As a passionate volunteer myself I frequently see the good and the bad of committees so the opportunity to reflect on how suited we are to voluntary positions is a welcome one when it comes to recruiting and supporting future committees.

Let’s review the characteristics of great committee people as said by volunteers themselves…

1. Passionate & Selfless
Great committee people agree; we need to be passionate about the club. We must be clear on what the club is for, who it serves and how our actions as office bearers contribute towards a unified community of members.
Critically, we must work hard to manage the needs of the whole club first, sometimes having to sacrifice something we personally want. We must also be aware that we don’t just serve a minority within the club – even if they are our friends and peers.

2. Great Communicators
Whatever the medium of communication, we must be clear and confident when sending messages. We must be able to speak and write well and will have a knack of making the message understandable for everyone. We must also have the patience to repeat that message many… many… times.

3. … and listeners
Communication is not a one-way-street. As well as speaking we must be approachable and listen. No one person has all the answers, and failing to listen to those around us is, at best, going to annoy fellow members, at worst, create conflict in the club
Let’s make sure we switch from ‘transmit’ to ‘receive’ frequently and look for opportunities for people to speak to us, as much as for us to speak to them.

4. Advocate change
Perhaps the most surprising of the ideal traits – committee people consistently raise the need to be brave when handling change, and to be aware of the need for the club industry to adapt and modernise.
Let’s test how open to change we are; how do words like “modern” and “new” make your committee feel? How often have we explored ideas from outside the close club community?

5. Big-Picture
We all have skills that can make a tangible and visible difference at the club but we must remember… committee work is primarily strategic, not operational. Being hands-on is only appropriate where it is in conjunction with the work of the club manager and staff, and part of the club’s big picture plan.
We cannot delegate the accountability that comes from being a club office bearer, a figurehead for the club and a representative of the membership – there is a lot to be hands on in that job alone.

Remember; these traits were identified by committee people themselves. They are a useful tester for how effective we are as volunteers, and how our current boards and committees operate.

When seeking new committee people many clubs focus on the duties of the role, and the business skills of candidates. However, it is critical not to miss the personal traits that are needed of these roles too and must should include these ‘softer’ points of discussion during induction and support of our committees.

You can contact John on [email protected]

John Kemp has held a range of voluntary roles from golf coach to club treasurer, CMAE Regional Committee to Sport Governing Body Board.He cares deeply about the unpaid work that is the bedrock of all clubs & sport, and has just begun a new role as National Development Manager for Bowls Scotland overseeing the growth of the sport in more than 850 clubs.