The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) has put out the call for candidates for the board of directors. You can read all the details at http://www.sqlpass.org/member/elections/index.cfm. I strongly encourage you to apply if you’re considering ways to give your resume a boost, network with other top professionals in the SQL Server industry, and help improve the overall community.
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As the president of PASS, I’d also like to tell you a bit about what it takes to be a successful director on a board of directors. One of the interesting things I’ve noticed in my many years serving on the board of directors for PASS is that many highly skilled technologists actually make less-than stellar directors. (Many people have made the same observation about technologists who move into management positions, but that is a different question altogether.) Why is that? Shouldn’t an intelligent and active person who is a quick learner be a success at everything they do?
Well, in fact, the skills that make a person a very successful developer, DBA, or BI expert are quite different from the skills that make a successful director. There is a short list of skills that certainly help – good written and verbal communication skills, a strong vision for the SQL Server community, a passion to help other people.
However, the key thing to remember is that board members are responsible for steering an organization at a very strategic level. Most technologists are responsible for working at a very tactical and detail level. The conflict between thinking strategically and thinking tactically are sometimes too much of a challenge.
For example, assume that PASS wants to collect better information from the community about what services everyone would like to see offered in 2006. Thinking strategically, a director might ask questions like “Should we convene a committee to draft the poll?”, “How often should we poll the community?”, and “When should we implement this plan?”
Thinking tactically, however, results in long discussions about what exact questions should be on the poll, what technology will be used to build or distribute the poll, and even which vendor to go with or whether we should build it ourselves. I call these sorts of tactical discussions “getting into the weeds” because you’re getting so low into details of the topic.
To use an analogy of a bicycle, the board of directors is responsible for steering the bike. Individual volunteers, staff, and committee are actually responsible for peddling the bike. It’s an old habit for many technologists to focus on peddling because the steering function is handed down to them from top management where they work.
So, are you a strategic thinker? Are you committed to drive board decisions through to implementation? Then I absolutely encourage you to apply! Take a look at the board application at http://www.sqlpass.org/2006BoardApplication.doc.
Let me know what you think,