One of the many awards that we have at the region level is the Blanche Edgar Award for S.O.L.T., which stands for Soroptimist Orientation and Leadership Training. The award is for clubs that have programs that show innovation in educating their members. Applications are due March 1 to SOLT_evelynholland@soroptimistsnr.org
While S.O.L.T. sounds a little old fashioned, there is so much in the concept that all clubs should try to implement. It is essential that we do orientation for new members to help them feel a part of the club and not overwhelmed by acronyms and discussions about projects that they don’t know about. Most clubs do this in one form or another, whether it’s a ‘S.O.L.T. minute’, ‘grains of S.O.L.T’ or a formalized mentoring program for new members. Make sure this hasn’t fallen off the radar with your club. You work hard to get new members and we need to try our best to keep them!
I’m betting most clubs don’t address the second part of S.O.L.T. too often – and that’s Leadership Training. How many clubs find themselves having a tough time finding people to run for office? Many, I am sure. We need to better prepare people for leadership roles. We need to find a way to take the fear out of running for office. We need to assure those that do step up that we have their backs and are here to help them, however we can. How do we better do that?
It starts with Soroptimist Orientation and making sure everyone knows who we are, what we do and that we are supportive of one another.
Next, it takes encouragement from current leaders. We must mentor all our members and don’t make the leadership jobs look too overwhelming – because they don’t have to be! We should lead as teams and engage our members to help lead the club. Yes, being a club leader does take dedication, but doesn’t that come from our passion for the organization? Yes, it takes stepping out of our comfort zone, but isn’t that how we grow as individuals?
Remember being a leader doesn’t mean that you have to jump right into being the president! Take a committee chair role, become a delegate, or run for another office in the club. If you really want to expand your horizons, join the region team as a coordinator or officer and gain a whole new group of friends and experiences. Yes, I spend a large amount of time working on region business, but I love doing it! I love my circle of friends that I have acquired. I love our mission and helping clubs. But you don’t have to have governor in your sights (or maybe you do!) just take a leadership role of some sort as a start.
Here is a page from the Soroptimist International of the Americas website that has all sorts of support for leadership. They now have a dedicated staff member for leadership development and they are committed to helping clubs develop leaders. We all should take on the challenge as well.