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The Challenges of New Leadership

Renewal time for EAA chapters is nearly finished for the year; the vast majority of you have done your paperwork and turned in your renewal and insurance fees. The EAA chapter office will follow up with a few of you who have not yet responded to the renewal notice. If you happen to be one of those chapters, please don’t delay.

Renewal is also happening for many of you within your own chapter, the kind of renewal that comes with leadership changes. EAA always has felt that leadership at the local level is really the most influential part of what makes a chapter successful. New leaders can bring new ideas and activities to a chapter. Sometimes a breath of fresh air really can help energize things. On the other hand, a new leadership style also can turn people off and make a chapter less engaging, creating hard feelings within the chapter.

There is no easy formula that results in effective chapter leadership. However, there are some common mistakes that new leaders make which are easily avoidable. One is failing to recognize all of the past good work by fellow members. When a new chapter leader says a goal is to “improve” the chapter, that can be misinterpreted by some that past efforts weren’t good. Of course this is usually not the intended meaning, but the message can easily come across wrong. So remember to build upon what is there, and know that anyone who has put effort into the chapter deserves respect and applause.

Another common mistake is to move into uncharted territory without thinking things through. Know the capabilities of your facility, understand your resources, and take stock of the current strengths of the chapter. Play to those things before you jump into something beyond what’s currently practical.

Finally, be sure to be ready for the time commitment that chapter leadership always brings with it. Too often folks underestimate the amount of time and energy that goes into being an effective chapter leader. One helpful hint is to include your family as much as you can. After all, the family that “EAA’s” together stays together! You will have less pressure to get home if your significant other is there having fun with you.

One last thought: Consider attending one of EAA’s Chapter Leaders Academy weekends in Oshkosh. There’s one coming up the weekend of March 20 to 22. You simply find your way to Oshkosh, and we will take care of your food, housing, camaraderie, and fun for the weekend. Visit the EAA website to learn more and register.

Good luck with your chapter!

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