Article II, Sec. 3, of the U.S. Constitution requires that, “The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Since January 8, 1790, when George Washington personally delivered the first annual message to Congress, Presidents have “from time to time,” been doing just that in what has become known as the State of the Union Address.
Regardless of your political views, there are some very valuable lessons that can be gleaned from last night’s address for those in the Organization Management industry. Here are my top three and a bonus lesson at the end.
- NO MATTER WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY, COUNT ON HALF THE PEOPLE IN THE ROOM TO BE SECRETLY PLOTTING AGAINST YOU…AND SAY IT ANYWAY!
Since the birth of this country, our leaders have followed their consciences and done what needed to be done in spite of the naysayers surrounding them. Many times, their predecessors did things differently. Others had their actions reversed as soon as they left office. But every one of them did what they thought was right and moved forward with conviction.I challenge YOU to do what you believe is right for your organization, even in the face of those that would oppose you, and know that there are good, strong people on your staff, on your board and among your membership who will back you up.
- IF YOU STAND UP AND TELL YOUR STORY, PEOPLE WILL LISTEN AND APPLAUD…WHETHER THEY AGREE WITH YOU OR NOT!
One look around the room last night will prove it. When the President entered the room, everyone stood and applauded. When he made a STRONG, EMOTIONAL point, they all showed their support…not just the Democrats & his supporters…EVERYONE! And when he told stories of real people and showed them in the room…the applause was even louder.When you tell your story with strength and emotion, people…even your detractors…will get behind you. Don’t ever miss an opportunity to tell the stories of your organization. Your staff deserves credit for what they accomplish. Your Board of Directors wants to feel as if their efforts are moving the Chamber or Association forward. Your Membership wants to belong to an organization that is DOING something. Get emotional about your work and do it publicly.
- ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS YOU’LL DO AS AN EXECUTIVE IS GET PEOPLE WITH DIFFERENT VIEWS TO AGREE ON…WELL…ANYTHING, BUT YOU STILL HAVE TO TRY.
President Obama opened his address with a quote from President John F. Kennedy: “The Constitution makes us not rivals for power, but partners for progress” In both JFK’s and Obama’s administrations, party lines were drawn very aggressively, and both men were intent on getting cooperation from both sides. I would challenge that real change & growth only comes when we work together to make it “right” for both sides.While you’re moving forward with what you know is right for your membership organization and your community, and while you are telling your stories more often…more emotionally…more effectively…it is important to do what you can to include those who might disagree with you in the conversation. I know they can be difficult to work with, but bringing them into the process shows others that you value both sides of the debate. Plus, their input can help you understand how to “sell it” to others who aren’t yet convinced you’re on the right path.
I promised you a bonus, and here it is:
SOME PEOPLE WILL FOCUS ON REALLY SILLY THINGS WHEN YOU’RE SAYING SOMETHING IMPORTANT. DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN THAT, KEEP MOVING FORWARD!
Following last night’s address, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida gave the Republican response. While he may have done a fantastic job of expressing the differing opinions of his party, a large segment of the people watching from home jumped on Facebook and Twitter to make fun of him for pausing in the middle of his remarks to reach awkwardly for a bottle of water just out of view of the camera. You can imagine the comments and the pictures that came from that one moment, and how the words he said were completely overshadowed by that meaningless act in the eyes of so many.
The lesson here is painfully obvious: Stay the heck off of Facebook & Twitter if you want to have a serious debate about the issues, but understand that these platforms are where a LOT of talking is going on. If you and your organization aren’t well-represented there (yup…telling your stories frequently and with passion), you’re missing out on some great opportunities & some hilarious pictures of cats!