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Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT
Senior Member
Username: rliebing

Post Number: 1371
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 10:57 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

by Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT, Cincinnati, OH

Being in the service of your peers is the hardest job of all, except when in the service of a relative [primarily your father!]. Of course, it is quite obvious that Dad sets your agenda and the measures of your work.

But when serving your peers it is another story. What are your obligations? What need you set aside of your persona to the benefit of the entirety of your peer group? It may be as simple as giving up lunch for a day, to make a presentation to your peers in the office— sharing an experience, sharing learning’s from a seminar, or instructing a class [days or evenings]on some aspect of your work/practice.

No big deal! Or is it? What becomes of your closely held thoughts, decisions, impressions, axioms, values and principles, when you are ELECTED to a position by your peers? We see this scenario all too often from afar— in the elected officials at local, regional and national levels. They are part of an extremely cynical situation where distrust is rampant and deep-- too often deservedly so! Where expressions of deeply held convictions “melt” away in the face of “other agendas, different pressures, and oh, yes, the quest for re–election [maybe we should elect Presidents for example for a single 8-year term, and while politics would not be wholly removed, there would be far less pressure to act constantly as a “candidate”, and spend inordinate time raising money!]

Ah, that’s too remote for us. None of us will ever get into that mess—hopefully. BUT we may get into Committee Chairs, Organizational Presidents, Conveners, Alderman, Board Members, etc.-- all “in service to our peers”. Now the first thing to go out the window is our ability to produce consensus. We all have friends “on both sides” of any issue, so we are set up to offend some [hopefully not to point of alienation] and moderately please others. If we please too many too completely we pander!!!

We must be careful of “sunshine laws” that describe what can be done in private session and what needs to be done in open forums. BUT, we submit, in both situations there is a need to communicate-- fully. Now this need not be every lurid detail, but every situation needs to be properly addressed, in a timely fashion, and with perhaps careful, but revealing and honest phrasing. Couched language, ambiguities, spin and shaded language needs to be purged, period!

Do we have a “duty” to our peers? What is the legal definition of “duty”? [def.-- obligatory tasks, conduct, service, or functions that arise from one's position (as in life or in a group) Are we somehow bound by that-- morally if not legally? We submit that this duty changes as one moves further away from the immediate peer group—say into a position of national impact, or of the whole of the organization. In this, then, there is more attention required to ensure that the peer group has broadened and became much more imposing and demanding—and more varied in viewpoint. Perhaps the major flaw of national or organizational office is the loss of a grass roots perspective. Good ideas—even the best of ideas—are often seated in those grass roots, and the wise peer-servant will always seek them out.

Where do personal, second or hidden agendas fit into this? Are they “allowed” at all? Can we ignore all and push them as we please [damn the torpedoes !!!] We submit none of this applies! Again it is the peer judgments, directions, perspectives, ideas and suggestions that remain ultimately potent and provide a mandate for attention. The collective mind, while needing focus perhaps, is a voice to be heard and acted upon. The “view from the trenches” is all too often lost on the rise to serving peers [sad but true!]

The peer servant needs to keep in full touch with, and needs to be refreshed by the tap root tie to the peer group. The life, breadth, support, direction, future and success of the organization lie in that grass roots peer group. The “town meeting” format is great, so long as the audience is not hand-picked and the questions carefully worded and pre-screened. When in the service of peers we need to remember: We are always a peer!

Arrogance of office or position has NO substantiation.

Serving peers is the most demanding, most daunting and potentially the most rewarding activity,
but always requires the highest and best effort fully mindful of the peers and their best interests.

Unequivocal 100%, absolute success is an illusion for a peer-servant; doing your best, based on
the largest amount of the best information is the best you can expect.

Seems every organization, at one time or another, professes that either “the members ARE the organization”, or “the organization belongs to the members”. If so, how do you ignore them, fool them, “spin” to them, lie to them, or otherwise flim-flam them?

Write that all down-- better chip it in stone— ye servant of peers!

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