So, the lodge elections are done, the chairs are filled, the new officers attended the officer training seminar and the lodge is off to a rousing start! Whew! Now comes filling committees and seeing to the business of running a member-centric Elks lodge! Before we move on, though, let’s examine how we filled the chairs and committees. In the process, did you have to twist a few arms and did you possibly even have to recruit a new member or two just to get a position filled? In doing so, we asked not what was in it for them (what the lodge could do for them).
Instead, we asked what they could do for the lodge! In keeping with my tradition of sometimes turning things upside down, I propose today that we begin recruiting members not for what they can do for the lodge but what the lodge can do for them! In sales, aren’t we taught to emphasize the benefits to the buyer of the new product or service? We ask new home buyers to picture themselves in the new home. The golfer is asked to visualize the shot. It’s selling 101. So why are these the first questions we ask a new member: serve on a committee, give of your time, financially support our projects and get involved? We tell them they have joined the greatest fraternal organization in the country but we don’t tell them why we are the greatest. Really, if you think about it, the only real benefit we tell them about is our cheap food and drinks!
So, what do I believe is the greatest thing we have to offer a new member? How about the Elks lodge being the place where leaders are created and trained? That’s right, we are a training ground for leaders! What other civic organization in the country has the training tools that we have? We have our organization structure from Grand Lodge to state to lodge. We run sophisticated business operations. We manage everything from employees to volunteers. We have expectations that require adherence to principles and traditions, and because our members are active every single day and not just on meeting day, we expose our members to the challenges of leadership every single day! Think of a new police officer straight out of the academy who takes a low-paying job in a small but crime-ridden town. The limited force allows this new officer to be exposed to things he or she might never see in a highly populated city where the force is highly specialized and segregated. It’s no different than a new doctor serving a rotation in a very busy emergency room. They are exposed to a lot of situations in a short amount of time. So too are our Elks lodges. They are not your average little league concession stand! Our leaders see a lot and confront it all in a short amount of time and after navigating the challenges successfully, they come out on the other end feeling accomplished, motivated and ready to take on the world!
Is this a benefit we have EVER sold to a new member? A leader in an Elks lodge does a whole lot more than just run meetings or chair activities. A leader in an Elks lodge develops skills that make them better leaders, better role models, better negotiators and better people!
Our organization trains leaders for business, leaders for the community and leaders for life! Why can’t we be proud of this fact and use this benefit to our benefit? Doesn’t this sound more enticing to a prospective member than what we do today?
I can already anticipate your next thought and it is look at the average age of our members and new members; many are past their prime and are retired. How is this a benefit to them? Well, I believe you are never too old to lead or learn, but even if you think you are, I am sure you have something to offer! If you have been in the workforce I am sure you have much in the way of wisdom to share. How about becoming a mentor to a new leader? Teach them what you had to learn the hard way! I know, no one gave you a leg up, but remember, it’s for your lodge! Not everything has to be a teaching moment. Allow our leaders to lead with dignity and respect them enough to help them. If nothing else, advise; don’t divide. It may not be the way it has always been done and it may not be the way you would have done it but unless you are going to step up and lead, please don’t get in the way of someone who is!
Ask not what that new member can do for the lodge but what the lodge can do for that new member!
My aim in these articles is to inform, educate and instill a sense of responsibility in our success. I do this by sometimes offering ideas that are not your normal run-of-the-mill thoughts and ideas. We are not perfect and sometimes we have to look at ourselves as others see us before we realize the need to improve. So how am I doing? Let me know what you think! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.