Not long ago I attended a meeting. I have a history of over four decades of meetings as an adult. These gatherings are a necessary part of life and have been around for a long time. Even the word, meeting, dates back to 1510. Getting together in a group gives people a chance to hear what the group is doing and often to speak their mind. If you are lucky, the person speaking sticks to the issues before the meeting. Unfortunately there is usually someone who heads off on a tangent which has more to do with their personal agenda than the agenda of the meeting.
In this most recent meeting, a person got stuck on the idea that the person acting as president of the organization deserved respect. We all understood that what was really being said was that the president of the organization deserved respect no matter what he or she was doing. Unfortunately the history of the organization is that two of the last three presidents have resigned because they were not doing what they were supposed to be doing. They had the idea that they could do whatever they wanted because they were president. What respect we might have had for them going into the office, they threw away while in office.
In the case of our organization, doing whatever they wanted including operating in secret with no open meetings for the community and providing no timely minutes of their closed meetings. It also included in one case trying to provide favoritism to a couple of lot owners and in another case spending a big chunk of the community's money without seeking any comment from the community ahead of time.
I am all for not micro-managing organizations that are elected to do a job. I appreciate people stepping up to the plate in volunteer organizations, but no one should take a job and ignore the way that the job is supposed to be done. If you want to do a job well, learn from those who have successfully done the job before you, do not assume that you can rewrite the rules to suit your own personal preferences. If you take the job and complain about how hard it is or try to convince the rest of us that you are a martyr, then you obviously did not understand the job in the first place.
I can guarantee you that I will always respect a great blue heron like the one pictured. I have been close enough to one to wonder whether or not I might be on the list of potential targets. Humans operate much more subtly. Still, I will always respect the office of president, vice president, secretary, or treasurer because I know from experience how much work goes into fulfilling the responsibilities of those jobs. However that is different than automatically and unconditionally respecting the person in the office. When a person takes one of those offices, that person has to earn my respect and trust. They will always start with the residual respect that comes with the office, but very quickly their words must translate into actions and actions must prove the capability of the person to hold that office and effectively discharge the duties of the office fairly and with the interest of the whole community taken into consideration.
If every office holder were competent and did their job as well as a great blue heron hunts, it would be a different story. Experience has taught me that more often than we care to admit, we put our trust in people who have done little to earn it. In corporate America we do not have a choice, but when we vote people ino an office, we always have the option of voting them out. Some of our recent organizations have had board members that have resigned more than once in single year. If you cannot make it through a term without resigning, please spare us your expertise.