I most helped when I came onto the board about two years ago thinking I would serve for a while and eventually take on a leadership role. But when I arrived the organization was in a crisis that split the board, and a number of people left. I was asked to stand for the board presidency in a contested election and was elected. Guiding the organization during that time was extremely critical, and I am proud that we got through the transition with no breakage even when there was some hostility, anger, conflict, and board members leaving. We do not have any residual bad feelings in the sense that some people may not particularly like each other, but no one is out to sabotage the organization or speak badly of it. As a result, the organization has ascended to a higher level in the last several years.
Offering Specialized Expertise
The second most common way that Senior Sage leaders help their favored organizations is by offering specialized expertise. Sometimes this involves strategic planning talent, navigating conflict, using mediation skills, or teaching the business side of nonprofits:
I have brought a pure business sense in my church to overlay the spiritual faith-based perspective of “Reach and spend money you don’t have and it will all work out!” Well, what if it doesn’t work out? I have been a grounding point and have also coordinated meetings with consultants. So I think I have brought business and coordinating skills to how we know who’s on first and who’s on second, what we are we doing about our financial commitments, and how we are going to finance the whole thing.
Then there are Senior Sages who possess in-depth knowledge of a complete field of endeavor or an organization’s history:
I have a deep history and understanding of what it takes to deal with the arts in Nevada County, and I think that’s my value at this point.
I believe I serve my organization best by being an idea person, a teacher, and a living memory of what has occurred since its founding. Also, some of the programming and projects we have done have either been my invention or co-invention. Increasingly, with new members coming onto the board with extraordinary experience, the need for me to play this role lessens—and that is a good thing.
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