All Hail to the Chief…

If you are the president of any organization, you know that what I meant up there in the title is:  Aw, Heck!  I’m the Chief!   

Tools of the Trade

I am in my second year of serving as president of a certain organization at J’s elementary school.   As president, I’m not really the chief either just the one who gets to be mostly responsible whether things go very, very right or go very, very wrong.   I am blessed to be surrounded by a lot of supportive group members and an amazing school staff and principal so that things usually go very, very right.  Some of them even seem to think I’m organized.

I think that’s funny.  However, I did have to apply a bit of organization to function and to keep from becoming overwhelmed.  If you’ve ever been president of an organization, you know you get a lot of papers!   Papers that you perhaps need to see but that aren’t necessarily pertinent to your job.  Papers, papers, everywhere!  Last year I think I may have lost a few papers.  Not super important papers (I’m not THAT bad) but still papers that may have been useful to other members of the organization.  Sometime near the end of last year, I had an idea of how to handle all those papers that pass across my presidential path.  No, it was not to light a match although I cannot honestly say that thought has never occurred to me either.  Instead of trying to keep them all in my notebook (usually each officer in an organization has a notebook with all that “important” stuff in it that they then gleefully get to hand over to the next sucker officer when their term is done), I went to Office Depot and purchased file boxes!  They happened to be running a buy 1 get 1 free sale and I needed one for another project here so it cost our organization no extra money!  It’s the same type of file box I used to organize J’s Lego instructions

I absolutely love these file boxes! I will pass this one on to our organization’s next president.

I keep extra pens here for anyone who might need one.

Every officier and/or committee chair in our organization gets a folder.  Anything that needs to go to that person gets put in their folder.  I have a president folder as well.

A teacher at school was nice enough to donate some of her extra hanging folders so I could make everyone a folder!

Ideally, they are then supposed to take it out and put it in their notebook when they attend our monthly meetings.  There is also a folder for copies of our event flyers so new people can reference them.  There is yet another folder named “reference” as I get a lot of information that needs to be shared but may not interest everyone.  To keep it from overflowing, I take a pen (or a Sharpie!) and mark the first month I share it on the outside. 

See that 9 in the corner? It means everyone had an opportunity to view this or take it with them in September. After our November meeting, it will be recycled!


Two months later, it all gets tossed!   This new system is working pretty well although not perfectly because there are those times when people can’t attend meetings and I’m not so good at passing the papers along outside of our meetings.  However, the papers are now in one location and not all over our house.  This does make my husband happy and it keeps me somewhat organized. 

Other things I do to keep from getting too bogged down in the role of president: 

  •  I do my best to delegate!  It is absolutely a learned skill that gets easier with practice. 

  • I go through and file all my papers in yet another notebook (I inherited this reference notebook with the job and whoever started it was amazingly organized so it is very easy to keep the trend going) once a month.  That usually happens right before the meeting for the current month but it does happen.  

    The super organized blue notebook! I won’t be blue when it’s time to pass it along.
  • I think in terms of the next president.  I have no desired to be a “career” politician 😉  so I want to make myself as replaceable as possible.  I also believe that is my responsibility as a good leader to make it easier not harder for the next person to do the job.   

A few more “secrets” to end this post.  Before I somehow (yes, I’m still scratching my head as to how I arrived here) became president of this parent organization at school, I was very briefly president of my local Mom’s Club chapter.  I was awful at that post!  I was also quite a bit younger although not that young.  Ahem.  I resigned.  I swore I’d NEVER be president of any other organization ever again.  Never say never.  I did learn from my experience though.  Here are what I think are the three keys to being a good president in any organization:

  1. Keep out the drama!  Seriously, just don’t let it start.  Use your common sense and think at least 4 times before you speak.  Also, a hard lesson learned….e-mail is NOT always the best form of communication.  Sometimes it is better to simply pick up the phone.  If in doubt, always pick up the phone and call.  Do I sound absolutely ancient if I say I think maturity helps with this?

  2. Always say the magic words no matter what.  I don’t always feel gracious but I always say thank you.  Even if everything goes wrong, someone somewhere still put in a lot of work and needs to hear those words.  Please helps as well especially if you are delegating a task.

  3. This last secret has probably helped me maintain my sanity more than anything else I’ve written about in this post.  Have a well-trusted confidential advisor.  Sometimes as president, I WANT to say things that just wouldn’t be good for the group or probably for my reputation as a nice person 😉  It helps so much to know I have someone I can call who will listen and understand. 

So have you ever been president of an organization?  If so, I’d love to hear how you kept yourself organized and/or maintained your sanity.  I will also confess that I am quite burned out in my current role (as I’m writing this post, I should be doing quite a few other tasks concerning my work with it such as getting ready for a meeting that is happening tomorrow!) and ready for the next person to step into position so any ideas on battling burnout would also be welcome comments.


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4 thoughts on “All Hail to the Chief…

  1. Pingback: » Can I Have a More Organized Home in 4 Weeks? Day 2

  2. Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    It’s been a few years, but I served as the president of a local networking chapter for business people. For the most part I enjoyed it. Fortunately there wasn’t a ton of paper that went with the job. I too dislike paper. Usually I file it immediately….and then forget to ever look at it again….which isn’t always a good thing. 😀
    Diane | An Extraordinary Day recently posted..{31 Extraordinary Days} PumpkinizingMy Profile

    1. Jean Post author

      I don’t mind my own papers but I don’t like having to be responsible for other people’s paper! I did enjoy it the first year but I’m sure ready to pass the torch now that I’m halfway through my second year.

  3. Pingback: » Creating a Board Member Notebook

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