Here's a quandary faced by those of us who have been active in leadership roles in the voluntary sector. When does our experience and expertise enrich an organization to which we have been committed, and when does it become counter-productive?
We happen to be living in an era that has been revolutionized by the development of online communities (like this one!), and whether it is cause or effect, our twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings are anti-institutional, or interested seemingly only in those institutions and organizations that they create. Are they staying away from the instrumentalities that have served our communities well because they just aren't interested in what their parents' generation thought was important -- or because we are thwarting them, blocking their way, hogging the positions of power?
I've been on both sides of this quandary in more ways than one. I've seen organizations that limited consecutive board service to terms so short that people rotated off just about the time they learned where the water cooler was -- and I've seen organizations that never made progress because of those two stultifying watchwords --
1. We can't do that -- we've never done it before.
2. We can't do that -- we did it twenty years ago and it didn't work.
I was scolded when I withdrew from one board where I had served for some twenty years, because they valued my "institutional memory." I was asked to withdraw from another because it was felt that the presence of us seniors was inhibiting the recruitment of younger leadership.
If we care about a cause, we want to do the right thing -- but who decides what's the right thing? What do YOU think is the right thing?