A few years ago I decided it was time to actually use my leadership skills, rather than just possess them. It was time to put my money where my mouth was. After much relfection, I realized that one of my strongest skills was as a “cheerleader” for whatever cause was at hand. Rallying the troops, getting people excited and motivated to participate. Generally this has been a successful role for me. I could lead the horse to water AND inspire it to drink.
Not so lately, though. Shortly after I transferred to a new forest, word came around that the agency was forming Green Teams. Perfect! I’m a life-long tree-hugger and was using my move to implement a whole lot of green things in my personal life. Between these and my cheerleaderness, I was ready and willing to take on the job of chairing the local Green Team and getting it going.
There was a lot of energy at first, and we had a great group of core participants. Lots of ideas, lots of great feedback. I knew that a lot of the burden would fall to me, to keep that momentum going and to make sure the ideas were implemented. But then my workload changed, and I felt I couldn’t really take on that much responsibility. Something had to fall off my plate, and leading the Green Team was it. So I sent out a call for help, said it was time for a new chair and who was interested?
The response was worse than underwhelming. It was nonexistent. Not one person has even acknowledged that I have stepped down. Not really surprising, but incredibly disappointing. I honestly expected that my cheerleading efforts would result in something at least a teeny bit sustainable. But they didn’t.
So what now? What do you do when, despite your efforts at leadership, no one will follow? Do you keep trying? At what point, if ever, do you give up? Normally, I wouldn’t give up. I would keep on being my cheerleady self and happily let people follow. This time, though, I just can’t. It’s a matter of stress management — I just can’t do everything right now. The stress of carrying on outweighs the disappointment of watching the Green Team die.
Or maybe it’s just hibernation. While I do my best to let it go, deep down inside I harbor a hope than when people realize it’s up to them to take up the mantle and keep the Team going, they will rise to the occasion. I’ve led the horses to the water. Now they just have to realize how thirsty they are.