Flying back from Cincinnati, where I’d been attending a meeting of the ARHP Committee on Nominations, it occurred to me that some members might be intrigued by the process of how ARHP officers and committee and subcommittee chairs are selected. While I do realize that some members aren’t interested in the structural organization of ARHP, I know some may ask, “Why was she selected and not me?”
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Explore This IssueAugust 2009
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The best way to answer those types of questions is to tell you about the selection process and share some insider tips on exactly what the ARHP is searching for in terms of leadership traits. Some leadership traits are obviously desirable: possessing excellent communication and negotiation skills, working as a team player on an existing committee or subcommittee, and being diplomatic while encouraging and motivating others to excel. However, in addition to those basic traits, an ARHP leader needs to be able to envision the large picture of issues within the organization and be able to prioritize and execute plans and strategies without micromanaging other volunteers or staff.
From my experience serving as ARHP president over the past ten months, I can also share that family, professional, and work support are crucial to being a successful volunteer for this organization. It’s also essential to have the physical and emotional stamina to cope with the extensive travel for meetings and the late nights of e-mailing. As a psychologist, I’m a people person, and I have an understanding of interpersonal and group dynamics, which is helpful; however, before I agreed to accept the presidency I knew that I needed to compensate for my obvious weakness of not being solidly connected with the nursing issues that affect the majority of our membership. Hence, our current president-elect, Linda Ehrlich-Jones, PhD, RN, is a nurse, and we work as a team to serve all the rheumatology health professionals who make up our organization. Being able to play off of strong points and recognize and combat those areas where you may have a weakness is a vital part of volunteerism.
Ideally, we’d like our officers to have varied leadership experience within the organization. The ARHP’s bylaws require that officers must have previously served as a chair of a committee, subcommittee, or task force, in addition to having served at least one year as a member of the executive committee. Serving on a range of ARHP committees is preferred, because this provides a broader picture of the needs of our members and the services we currently offer. I confess that I am a “one-track” president, having worked in the area of education. I served first as a member of the Annual Meeting Program Subcommittee for two years, then as its chair for one year. Next, I served two years as chair of the Education Committee, and then one year each as secretary-treasurer, president-elect, and now as your president. I wasn’t the typical candidate, but I participated as an invited guest on other ARHP committees during my year as president-elect to broaden my perspective on ARHP issues. That provided me a great overview of the ARHP and the benefits we provide our members.