A Path of a Leader: The Importance of Committees to Leadership

Leaders have the social sway to directly and indirectly affect the policies, procedures, and laws of businesses, industries, and regions. The pursuit of leadership opportunities allows individuals to attempt to make real positive social change. Social change that can not only positively affects your place of employment, but also your local and national community.

You have the desire to inspire change? Now what? You’re only one person. How can you realistically reach far enough to positively contribute to society on a larger scale?

Start by joining a committee at work. Work committees are a great way to practice your communication skills, demonstrate your worth to the company, and indirectly and directly contribute to company plans and policies. Your suggestions might not always be implemented, but at least they will have been heard.

What committee should you join? Depending on the size of your workplace, your company might a few different types of committees that serve different purposes. I work at a small internet marketing firm that currently has two committees: a Culture and Wellness committee and an HR committee. When contemplating which committee to join, think more in terms of where can I do the most good? Where do my current experiences leave me most able to positively contribute?

Personally, I don’t care much about the idea of wellness. Health is important, but I’m more of an accidentally healthy person. If it aligns with my desires and habits, I’m healthy. On the other hand, I do get passionate about ensuring that we have a respectful and happy workplace. The HR committee is a clearly a better fit for me, so that’s the one I joined.

Once you determine where you can do the most good, then you might want to consider how active the committee is. Nothing is more frustrating and fruitless then being on a committee that rarely meets and then never follows through on their plans when they do. I’ve been on that committee. It’s essentially being paid to occasionally do nothing. Not a great place to jump start yourself into being a community leader.

If you work at a larger company, you might want to pursue a position on one of the more important committees. More influential committees actively shape the company on a larger scale, may be viewed as vital by management, and/or are held accountable by management for their contributions on the committee. These are committees where not engaging can be detrimental to your standing within the company.

SouthWest Airlines culture committee is a good example of an important committee that can sky rocket individual’s leadership credentials. Dr. Mark Allen, a company culture expert, in a webinar hosted by Pepperdine University’s MBA program, explains that being a SouthWest Airlines committee member is a prestigious title.

Members serve a two year term and within that two year term they are responsible for and held accountable to “overseeing, maintaining, [and] growing the culture of SouthWest Airlines.” Serving as a member will be harder than your typical party planning committee, but by the end you’ll have more sway within the company and better credentials if you pursue a positions on important regional or industry committees.

If you want to be the type of leader that is a change agent on a larger scale, you must eventually expand your reach beyond your workplace and pursue positions on committees or boards within alumni associations, industry organizations, or non-profit organization boards. It might take a bit to get to that point, but by getting your feet wet within company committees, you can begin the path to positively influencing the world around you.


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