POWER CORRUPTS : ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY................... ( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )
It is very common for long serving committee officers to seize control of all committee matters, expecting the ordinary committee members to toe the line. Handing over any power to elected officers may seem an expedient and essential requirement , if the club is to managed efficiently and effectively. But such a move is highly dangerous.
" Organisations, like daily life itself, MUST be based on firm understandable, topical laws , and their interpretations be required to be fair and just across the board ". Therefore within the Constitution carefully worded rules need to be in place to ensure such noble ideals turn into reality. Without appropriate constraints or limitations on the officers' powers, they will at worst dis-empower the ordinary club members from everything they do, especially when the ordinary committee members themselves are not part of the inner circle.
If club officers end up with too much power and authority, they inevitably see themselves as the ultimate decision-makers, reducing the role of others on the committee to that of nodding dogs.
This situation usually results in the officers making all the major decisions without any action or oversight by others within the club. It might well be the case that officers conduct their affairs on a fait accompli basis , unwilling to even discuss such matters beforehand with any others except their most trusted supporters. Any abuse of power is a deviation of their duty to be fair and just. In fact any single deviation " should be regarded as , at the very least, highly suspect , pointing directly to the involved group in power being on its way to acting tyrannically and nothing more than a not so benevolent dictatorship ".
While it is accepted that the officers must undertake special duties and responsibilities , they must do so subject to appropriate checks and safeguards. The club's Constitution along with other ethical guidelines generally require that the activities and affairs of the club be properly managed, and all executive powers be undertaken with the best interests of the club in mind.
Accordingly, the ordinary committee club members should provide direction and advice to its officers regarding major governance decisions delegated to them , and oversee such decisions as being sound, sensible, rational and fair. If committee decisions still appear to be inconsistent with common sense, values , or goals, then the rank and file club members need power themselves in order to take appropriate and corrective action.
" While life often dictates disagreements among intelligent people, solutions should always be decided in favour of the entire group as a whole, with no segment ( such as the few in charge, ebven with their supporters added ) gaining untoward advantage ". Officers will always be looking to seize opportunities to consolidate their power base , especially, when any apathy and complacency have overwhelmed the wider membership. They will claim there is little reason for them to regularly inform or announce what their intentions are : no one is interested. " We know best " is often the mantra of power crazed officers , who believe that to fully engage with all club members contradicts their notion that they only need to know what we choose to tell them. Keeping members in the dark is a clear abuse of power. In the minds of the officers , knowledge is power and not for sharing. However , by imposing a strict duty to inform , this essential safeguard would certainly direct everyone on committee to meet that obligation , thereby keeping the club's governance on the correct track.
Refusing to listen to or accept contrary advice and guidance not only smacks of arrogance but also abuse. When decisions are challenged, then some form of arbitration should be embarked upon. " Precedents in arbitration should shine their light in everyone's direction , rather than in favour of just the privileged few. To reject offers of arbitration would be another classic example of abuse. "
All officers have a fiduciary duty to the club, and to preserve its long-term survival and financial health. Officers who act in an arrogant and ruthless way , ignoring the advice and guidance offered by others with genuine and valid concerns, could make decisions that harm the club or a third party. Indeed, " when everything is going well , it is relatively easy to be kind, considerate and thoughtful , but when dissension ( as it often does ) enters the room , the quality of theman ( in this case , the officers ) is always determined by how measured in fairness the decision makers remain. Abuse of power often comes with illusive , competitive , negative emotions, which triumph over common sense and fairness. The primary duty of any committee should be to follow " a straight forward path toward equity for everyone , not favouring bias, but instead , the future of the entire group" .
( Footnote : the above quotes were all provided by Bobby Wolff , who I consider to be a man of immense wisdom , understanding and knowledge on all matters relating to this controversial issue and related committee matters. )