It is certainly a privilege and a bit daunting to take over the reins as Chair of The Counselor organization. How do you lead a group of leaders? I am reminded of an old Marlboro commercial back when they could run TV ads. (Fortunately, our demographic remembers back that far!) It showed a cowboy trying to “break” a horse with a voice-over saying, “You don’t break a good horse; you reach a compromise.” With a group like the CREs, I don’t think one leads so much as channels your abundant energy and talents toward the goals set collectively.
In this case, those goals are the Strategic Plan that was just approved by the Board and the channeling of energy is going to be the implementation of the Plan. That implementation is the duty and challenge you have given to me and my administration. We are up to that challenge and have already set the wheels in motion and put the pieces in place that are necessary to achieve those goals.
As I said during the Members’ Meeting in Charlotte after the gavel was passed to me, the virtue of patience was never bestowed on me. It is just not in my DNA to sit around and wait for things to happen. As I said that during the meeting, I glanced over at Mary and saw this look of horror on her face. Relax, Mary – I am not going to try to cram the five-year implementation into one year! What it does mean is that we did not sit around and wait for the Plan to be passed to begin the process of putting it in place. In fact, we started three months early by forming a task force to begin parts of the process.
The five-year Strategic Plan has five primary objectives:
- Membership: Increase by 20%
- Brand Enhancement: Increase awareness and appeal of CRE brand
- Member Engagement: Enhance with new and existing programs
- Application Process: Revise to increase level of understanding/confidence
- Scope & Activity: Reassess relevance of programs
Within two weeks of the conference, we already had an amazing head start on member recruitment because of Mary’s charge to immediately realign staff priorities and responsibilities to achieve this goal. We need the names of qualified candidates from all of our members and we are finding that all we have to do is ask. But it is the manner of asking that makes the difference, and we realized months ago this would involve the time-intensive process of making personal phone calls to the membership. We had previously tried sending our requests for candidates via email blasts but it is just too easy to hit Delete. For all the emphasis there is on social media, nothing takes the place of a one-on-one conversation. The result is that we already have acquired a significant number of potential CRE candidates to pursue. This is the start of achieving the first objective. Kudos to the CRE staff for their highly successful personal outreach to CRE members!
We are also in the process of implementing the CRE Website Remake 2.0 – a complete redesign of the website to bring us up to date and help us achieve all of the Plan objectives. We are also rolling out more in the social media area including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook enhancements. This is all to help achieve objective number two.
The third objective is going to be achieved through the work of many of the committees, including the Consulting Corps, External Affairs and Education to name a few. More on their activities in the future. (Better yet…get involved in committee work and find out for yourself!)
We also convened a task force to revise the verbiage on the website and other documentation used in the invitation process. You will see better definitions of what counseling is, what the CREs are all about, what we are looking for in candidates and how to get through the process. I am also appointing a number of members that are very familiar with the invitation process to serve as resources to the staff, sponsors and candidates to help clarify and smooth out the application process so that the Invitation Committee has much more thorough information in front of them when they are reviewing the qualifications of candidates. With this we are tackling the fourth objective.
We have already carried out a necessary part of the fifth objective in order to reassign priorities and staff in order to achieve all of the others.
I am very excited about the momentum coming into my year at the helm. Much credit and thanks go to Noah Shlaes for his tremendous job as the past Chair and to Scott Muldavin for diving in with so much energy as Vice Chair. I welcome any of your thoughts and ideas for bettering our wonderful organization.
James Lee, CRE
2016 Chair of the Board