A Change Within

by Manuel B. Quintal, Esq.

It is amazing how fast and widespread the movements for the ouster of long-tenured world leaders have spread in the Middle East and Africa. Changes in governments are abrupt and extensive when people’s multitudes are involved in pursuing a common objective.

However, the common objective that brings about a concerted action disappears when a government change happens. After that, division and infighting ensue. The less desirable characters of the people involved in the struggle against the autocrat are revealed. The pursuit of less altruistic objectives begins to predominate. The disunity either slows down achieving preset goals or prevents them from reaching those goals. A change within must come with a shift in leadership.

This same pattern arises in most of our community not-for-profit organizations.

“The disunity either slows down achieving preset goals or prevents them from reaching those goals. A change within must come with a shift in leadership.”

Officers in many community organizations are usually united in purpose, at least outwardly, when running for office in organizations. It is not unusual that erstwhile protagonists, or at least not in civil speaking terms, band together to achieve a desired common end — WIN. The desire to increase the chances of winning and minimize campaign-related expenditures dictates the need to show solidarity for a common objective. Under these circumstances, it not surprising that a collection of individuals who presented themselves as a group for temporary convenience would soon disintegrate into one-person crusaders with irreconcilable agendas. It is not rare for an organization to cease to exist because its leaders fail to agree to act as a group.

It is not unusual to see one organization split into two or smaller groups, with the same set of civic or humanitarian objectives, competing and trying to outdo and outshine the other(s) and discrediting one another and themselves. There may be moral and ethical issues involved, but nothing is illegal about forming similar or spin-off organizations. Large national and international organizations encourage it because of its revenue in a different formation and membership dues. The right to form an association is both a human right and a legal right flowing from the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“Within the organizations, barriers to change may exist. Many of our not-for-profit community organizations create positions and new designations given, but the leaders remain the same. The same people take positions of leadership.”

Leaders and members of our community organization realize that changes in organizational set-up, titles, and positions are necessary to make the organizations more effective and attune to the needs of the communities they serve. But the changes are long in coming like in countries long ruled by autocrats. Changes in terminology occur, but nothing substantial.

Within the organizations, barriers to change may exist. Many of our not-for-profit community organizations create positions and new designations given, but the leaders remain the same. The same people take positions of leadership. Those who somehow treat the not-for-profit organization as their own oppose changes. Those who take pride in having been part of the organizations for so long generally become the barriers preventing the introduction of new ideas and changes brought and introduced by new and younger leaders.

“Why our organizations experience division and infighting after the euphoria of winning disappears may have something to do with the underlying, covert, and undeclared reason(s) for joining the organizations. Is it solely/primarily personal, or is it mostly for the social good?”

Many who feel have not been given their dues in terms of recognition and position of perceived significance not only leave the offending organizations but leave with a vengeance in their minds and deep-seated resentments in their hearts. Incidents like these make recruiting and convincing prospective leaders to join a challenging endeavor.

Why our organizations experience division and infighting after the euphoria of winning disappears may have something to do with the underlying, covert, and undeclared reason(s) for joining the organizations. Is it solely/primarily personal, or is it mostly for the social good? Observe your community leaders, and you will decipher and discover what made them join your organizations.

A change within will help achieve an organization’s long-term goals, without attendant discord, after the fleeting reason for united action, i.e., winning, has dissipated.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Manuel B. Quintal, ESQ., practices law in New York since 1989. He is active in the community as a member, an officer or a legal adviser of various professional, business, and not-for-profit organizations. He was a columnist of Newstar Philippines, an English language weekly newspaper published in New York, from 2006-2009. He was Executive Editor of International Tribune, an English language weekly newspaper for the Asian community, based in New York, from 2010 to 2012. He is admitted to practice law in the Philippines and New York State. He has graduate degrees in Political Science and an LL.M. major in International Law.

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