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Clarifying roles for coalition staff, leaders and members

Although you have a shared passion and interest for the work, staff (and contractors) have much more capacity to spend time in the coalition than leaders or members. In most coalitions, staff are paid and volunteer leaders and members are unpaid. Even if your coalition leaders or members work aligns very closely with the work of the coalition, their job is not working for the coalition. As I was discussing with colleagues last week, if you want to lead a coalition, someone has to support (fund) and staff it. Otherwise, you may be able to have a few meetings but it is extremely difficult to keep momentum and make progress together. You want to first understand the role of your coalition and then your next step is to get clear about the different roles and expectations for coalition staff, leaders and members. Join me this week as I recommend three steps to help you clarify and set expectations for your staff, leaders and members.


Consider the past 3-5 months (or maybe just the past month if you have limited time). Write down all of the activities you have done. Remember to include more than just hosting meetings. You want to think about who is sending emails, organizing lists, scheduling the meeting, organizing a project or sharing ideas and feedback on a project. Involve others in helping you remember what you all have collectively done. Look at your calendar and your planner and/or post-it notes. You may even want to have a group meeting/discussion where you can write it all down together. If you are virtual, host a meeting, share a screen and have someone write it all down.


Review what you have written and reflect on the following questions: What roles have staff played in the coalition? What roles have leaders played? What roles have members played? Focus on what people have actually done rather than what they said they would do. 🙂 As you reflect on what has been done, does this align with your expectations? For instance, did you expect your coalition leaders to convene a workgroup meeting but the group did not meet? Did you expect your members to read the materials prior to the meeting but no one read them? Did you expect your staff to facilitate the meeting but your leaders were the ones who facilitated? When you can compare what you expected with what actually happened, you will be able to better understand realistic roles for each group.


Discuss what you discover with your staff, leaders and members. Based on your review and reflection notes, ask for feedback on what is realistic for each group. Listen closely. Understand what roles are most important for each group. Develop realistic (and possibly revised) roles. Even though you may have expected your coalition leaders to convene meetings, this may need to be a staff role. Alternatively, your coalition leaders may want to contribute to developing the agenda, help with facilitating the meeting or recruiting new members.

So what about you? What do you need to do to block time for review?

If you would like more resources on clarifying roles for staff, leaders and members, check out my Masterclass Recording, Clarity in Your Coalition!

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

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