You are Not the Boss of My Community #11 #cong19


The best ideas come from communities solving their own problems. It’s almost always a team effort and no one person pulls it all together. When we stop looking for others to fix our problems and put our energy into finding solutions we have far greater success. The best communities are filled with people who found their own solutions and then held a table quiz.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Leaders need supportive teams.
  2. We can solve our own problems
  3. People are terribly hard on other people
  4. Communicate within your community and always mention the elephant in the room.

About Ailish Irvine:

Ailish Irvine is a freelance jack of all trades and master of none. She regularly mentions the elephant in the room. She is not afraid of taking the first step and tripping, tumbling and falling on her head. She has a new idea every day, (Didn’t say they were good ones).
She helps businesses, Community groups, Non Profits with funding, training, consultancy and she likes coffee and biscuits and laughing.

Contacting Ailish Irvine:

You can connect with Ailish on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or by emailing her.

By Ailish Irvine

You’re not the boss of my Community.
Who makes the decisions in your Community? Who has the right? It’s key to equip people with a sense of responsibility for finding solutions to problems in their own area. The best communities know that the person with the idea is not the only important one. For a good idea to take shape there needs to be a team of supporters. People need help finding funding, organizing events, catering, decorating, sweeping, donning a high viz, and putting up bunting and selling raffle tickets. These are all very unique skills and no man is an island. It takes a community to raise a child (or a decent project in this case).

  1. Every town/ village thinks that they are the centre of the universe. They think that those in Government have let them down and that there are less resources in their community than everywhere else in the whole world.
  2. They spend a lot of time and energy complaining about what people have not done for their area. They usually complain to the person responsible who is more concerned about trying to deflect blame than find solutions.
  3. Communities working together are much better working together than against each other. Sounds simple, well it isn’t. Communities spend decades holding onto anger and resentment and bitterness rather than choosing an alternative path.
  4. People can achieve amazing things when they get out of their own way. That means when you encourage someone who has a solution and you validate their reasons for trying to make a change you give them a gift.
  5. Committees who have been in operation for a very long time get burnt out. It’s a simple fact. New blood that wants to rock up and show them how it’s done tend to come in energetic, enthusiastic and deeply critical. Things fall apart. Recognize the merits of those with more experience than you.
  6. Sometimes groups don’t know why they are together or what they are working towards. Be sure everyone knows why they are there. Have a mission statement or at least double check that everyone is on the one page about the cause.
  7. No man is an island. The best groups have a leader who makes them feel supported and listened to. The worst leaders listen to everyone and try to agree with everyone and try to keep everyone happy. A healthy dose of listening to opinions but taking a vote will speed things up. Everyone is never going to be on the one page and have the same opinion. When people are indecisive they push things onto agenda’s from one meeting to the next while people are afraid of mentioning the elephant in the room.
  8. Some people won’t step down because they are convinced the world will stop turning without them. It won’t.
  9. Communities working together and achieving success is like watching a gardener planting a seed and nurturing and caring for it until it grows. Birds will try and eat it, winds will try and damage it but when the gardener expects some problems and prepares for them, their garden will blossom.
  10. Even the most accomplished skilled leaders who look like they have it all together, need to hear the occasional thank you.
  11. If you are not there to contribute anything helpful get out of the way of the workers and let them get on with it.
  12. Someone who did zero work will always show up for the photograph. I don’t need to give examples you have all being shoved into a corner while someone more important rugby tackled you for poll position.
  13. Develop a thick skin early on. Anyone who starts to make progress in Ireland can be accused of being “in it for themselves” “running off with the money” “lining their own pockets” or “not giving the gig to our little Jimmy”. These things will happen don’t give them your energy.
  14. Committees that consult other groups in their area about when they are fundraising are appreciated. You do not want to take the grief of having organised a table quiz the same night as a fashion show somewhere in town.
  15. Appreciate your volunteers and remember they are volunteers and do not have to do what they are doing. Be realistic about commitment from volunteers, they have families and a life outside the organization they are VOLUNTEERING with. I regularly have to remind volunteers that they have a choice. You are allowed to turn up to your child’s Holy Communion if the GAA have a fundraiser on that day.
  16. If a community organizes an event and it is a complete disaster. Be honest. Reflect and consider what happened and what can be learned from it, then MOVE ON. Park it and learn.
  17. Get training and support for people when they are given a job. Don’t just tell them they have a job to do and assume they have the skills and knowledge to do it. Create an atmosphere where people are comfortable saying what they can/ can’t do.
  18. Have a plan B. Never have one person having the keys to the kingdom. I’ve seen too often disgruntled members taking off with passwords or denying access to social media/website logins etc.
  19. Have a sense of humour. Enjoy what you are doing. This may become your only social life so have fun when you are doing it. If you are not enjoying it anymore stop. Netflix has some great shows now.
  20. Value the contribution of everyone in the organization no matter how small the job they do. The person who loves selling raffle tickets is a vital asset to your cause.
  21. GIVE BACK. If you hold regular fundraisers where you are constantly asking from your community, then hold something where you give back to the community. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune but celebrate your successes and reward your volunteers. The tiniest of acknowledgements go along away and ensure sustainability and longevity in an organisation.

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