2004 is clearly going to be a steamroller of a year (diesel or electric roller doesn't conjure up the same image does it?). Already my desk, cleared at the end of 2003, is becoming buried under works in progress. It already seems ages since the call for abstracts went out and the deadline for submission was months off. Abstracts have now been reviewed, accepted, rejected and sent for printing.
While the focus of our thoughts is preparation of presentations for the Sydney meeting there is another critical deadline coming up fast. There has been little discussion and thought put to this but in many respects it is a far more important deadline. I speak of the vote for the next Executive of the Society - to be voted in at the AGM in Sydney. It has been many years since there was a true election with but one nomination being lodged and the Executive being elected unopposed. This, of course, means that the candidates whose names have been put forward have the total support of the membership. Or does it? How, I wonder, does one distinguish between "Confidence" and "Apathy"?
The Oxford English dictionary defines Executive (interestingly as an adjective) to mean 1. Operative; 2 skillful in execution especially as concerned with carrying out the laws, decrees etc. This meaning became associated with the Executive branch of Government as opposed to the legislative branch and hence the meaning was transferred to any administrative body from 1868. Applying this to ANZSRS, and not wanting to pre-empt the Governance review, one should view the Board as the legislative arm of the Society and the Executive as the body charged with executing the wishes of the Board which in turn represents the membership at large.
What then should we look for in an Executive as the Society moves forward into a brave new world of professionalism and credentialling / registration? Surely the people elected must have the confidence of the membership that will make the right decisions, that they will deliver on the Mission and Vision of the Society and that they will leave the Society in a stronger position than when they took over the reins. In order to deliver such outcomes, the Executive must be prepared to make informed decisions quickly; they must drive initiatives forward and demand accountability of those to whom tasks have been delegated, but remain supportive and flexible believe in the Society and its aims to the extent that they are fierce defenders of what we all stand for. In short they must be the powerhouse of the Society. They must be strong but must listen; they must lead but be team players; they must be experienced in dealing with people and issues but they must also be innovative; they must be driven by their belief in the Society and what it stands for but remain flexible and responsive to others. Who in their right mind would accept such a challenge?
Each branch of the Society should be proposing a potential Executive at this time - in fact should have been discussing the issue for some time by now. This does not mean they have to nominate a team from their own branch but they should have a consensus view as to who the best candidates for the jobs would be. These deliberations should lead to individuals being approached to form an Executive - waiting for people to offer themselves is abrogating your responsibilities. With today's technology it is not necessary for the three members of the Executive to reside in the same city or state or even country - the NZ Executive operated from Christchurch, Wellington and Melbourne without too many difficulties. With each Branch getting the opinions of their members and feeding them back to the current Executive and discussing them with potential candidates, we will end up with an Executive that has a true mandate from the membership.
The alternative approach of someone else sticking their hand up, with the resultant Executive elected unopposed, leaves us with the difficulty of determining whether they enjoy the support of the membership or are simply a product of its apathy. With the climate into which we are moving can we afford to have an Executive elected because nobody else could be bothered getting involved?
Branch driven nominations will lead to an Executive that will drive the Society forward and ensure our profession continues to grow in stature. Such Executors will ensure that we are increasingly recognized for the important role we fill in health. An Executive based on apathy will mean we risk having Executioners at the helm rather than Executors.
The choice is yours