By Franz Kelsch, ACTC Webmaster – From the October Black and Blue Bottom
I belong to a small cycling club in Utah. A single person runs the club (very effectively) and the same person handles the simple website and sends out all email communications. There is one ride on a Saturday and everyone rides at the same fast pace. I don’t have the history with ACTC as some of our members do, but I suppose in the early days you would find a more homogeneous club than what we have today.
ACTC has evolved into a large and very diverse club. There are those who enjoy the shorter, socially oriented rides. Those who want to push their limits participate in long-distance weekly rides which go further than supported century rides. Some prefer touring, some like to mountain bike.
We know that the club has about 1,000 members, but how many of them do you know? If you are like most of us, you tend to ride with the same people and that circle of friends can be relatively small. We have evolved into a club that is made up of several groups, each with it’s own communication system and natural leaders. There is the long-distance training ride group. There is the Whine and Dine group. There is the
mountain bike group. There are those who are going after the most number of Billy Goats. And so forth.
Such diversity should be celebrated because as a club we can offer things to such a wide range of members. But with it comes the kinds of challenges that require more leadership skills than for the small Utah club I mentioned. At the very time when we need a more sophisticated club leadership, we find it difficult to fill board positions. For the last board we found it difficult to get one position filled by a single person. This board was elected without a single office having any choice. As a club the few of us that bothered to attend the general meeting and vote didn’t really vote. Someone did suggest we need somehow to vote and people raised their hand, maybe thinking whoever wants to be on the board is fine, as long as it is not me!
This can be an indicator of an unhealthy organization. When I look at our two big fundraisers, Tierra Bella and Sierra to the Sea, I see well-run organizations. Each is led by very a talented individual who has the skills needed to get a bunch of volunteers to dedicate a lot of their time. The meetings are run smoothly and the staff for each event is well coordinated. We, as a club, are fortunate that is the case. How well would Tierra Bella be run if no one wanted to be the leader or on the staff? Suppose we just published in the B&BB we want someone to be the leader and take the only person who raises their hand, regardless if they have the necessary skills. And yet, that is exactly how we, as a club, have approached the important board positions.
In a club as diverse as ACTC, we need a board that has a vision that can be articulated of where we, as a club, want to go. The board needs leadership skills to get member acceptance of that vision. We need a board that fosters appreciation for the many volunteers who dedicate a huge amount of time serving the club as a whole. One of our past presidents changed the name of our annual dinner to Appreciation Night to help change the focus from giving out awards to showing our appreciation for our volunteers. So what happened at the last dinner? We had a special table for those who did all the Billy Goats and ignored the volunteer aspect of the club at the very time when we are now having some real serious issues with volunteer positions.
With the election of 2009 officers approaching, I encourage those ACTC members who have the skills and willingness to run for the Board positions. Even if an existing Board member intends to continue, hopefully we as a club with have a choice on that position.