With the abrupt & unexpected shutdown of a #CostumeClub last week, we want to explore the various reasons that can contribute to a costume club failing & use it as a learning opportunity. The failure of a costume club is probably not going to be due to a single reason. Rather, a combination of negative factors can so weaken a club or its leadership to such an extent that it simply implodes. That is essentially what happened last week when a costume club chose to disband without warning.
So, with no further ado, here are some of the reasons that might lead to a costume club failing.
1. Inexperienced Leadership
Probably one of the most significant reasons that can lead to a costume club’s downfall is inexperienced leadership. Before someone is elected or appointed to a leadership position, the individual should be able to demonstrate that they are qualified to handle the responsibilities of the position. This is especially true if the position is equivalent to being a club president.
This is no different when someone applies and potentially interviews for a job at a business. Hiring an unqualified person into a job means that the job isn’t going to be done well, correctly or at all. For a business, this can result in loss of revenue, loss of credibility with customers, loss of business, etc. The negative impact to a costume club can be similar.
While a resume is the typical way that a job candidate demonstrates their abilities & qualifications for a job, listed below are some (certainly not all) qualifications that could potentially demonstrate someone’s qualifications for being in a costume club’s leadership position:
- Length of membership. Someone who has been a costume club member for more than a year (for example) would be more qualified than someone who only joined a few months before because they would have more experience in how the club operates. Time spent in a costume club is akin to on-the-job-training & experience.
- Participation. If someone doesn’t participate frequently in costume club events, how can they demonstrate that they have a firm understanding of how events are organized and how members should conduct themselves at events? Someone who attends nearly every event would be far more experienced than someone who only participates once or twice a year, even if the person who has participated at more events hasn’t been in the club as long as the person who rarely participates. This is also akin to on-the-job-training & experience.
- Costume club charter familiarity. Someone who isn’t familiar with a costume club’s charter isn’t going to be as prepared to know what can or cannot be done than someone who is very familiar with it. Rash decisions and decisions that are inconsistent with a costume club’s rules are more likely to happen with someone who doesn’t know the club’s charter.
- Personality. Someone who doesn’t form interpersonal relationships as well as someone who can won’t be as effective a leader because they won’t be able to interact with the members as effectively. Also, someone who is more argumentative is also not going to be the best choice for a leadership role. Costume clubs thrive when the members are having fun; member morale & participation drops when they don’t want to be around argumentative members, especially when they are the ones making decisions for the club.
The club that shut down last week did not have the most experienced or qualified people in the top most leadership roles. This was a red flag. 🚩
(For additional reading, on Jan. 6, 2016, we wrote a post on our Facebook page describing the differences between good costume club leadership and poor leadership. We may update and re-post this soon on this blog.)
2. Top-Heavy Leadership Structure
Any costume club that concentrates leadership at the top and doesn’t distribute & delegate decision making adequately is only setting itself up to fail as the number of members in the costume club grows. This paradigm may work when there are only 50 or less members, but once a club has over 100 members and the numbers continue to grow, the ability of the leaders in a top-heavy structure to make decisions and keep up with the increasing responsibility can become overly stressful and lead to collapse, especially when those leaders are unwilling to either step down or be willing to start delegating decisions and responsibilities to others.
The club that shut down last week was very top-heavy by design. This was yet another red flag. 🚩
(For additional reading, on Jan. 28, 2016, we wrote a post on our Facebook page showing differences between democratic & oligarchical costume club leaderships.)
3. Poor Decision Making
Any leadership that deliberately deceives other members or doesn’t take the time to verify the validity of information it receives before acting on that information is not only unqualified to lead, it may be making very poor decisions that damage the club’s credibility or it’s ability to operate at all.
It is our understanding from interviewing several individuals that were part of the club that disbanded last week that the decision to disband was a combination of unverified information, as well as possibly deceptive information being used to support disbanding. This was another red flag. 🚩
4. Unresolved Internal Conflict
This is something we have touched on before. Any time costume club leadership permits unresolved internal conflict to flourish or directly participates in it, members will stop participating. Sometimes, members will leave en masse. The whole purpose of a costume club is to have fun and (quite often) participate in charitable work while wearing costumes.
When a costume club’s leadership fails in its responsibility to resolve conflict (both internal and external), it is demonstrating that it has completely forgotten the costume club’s mission or that that mission is no longer relevant to them. Either way, the result will be bad for the club and its members.
It’s our understanding that some serious internal conflict occurred within the costume club leadership that disbanded last week only a few weeks before its leaders voted to disband. This would have been a very large red flag. 🚩
5. Lack of Regard for the Membership
While this may be more difficult to detect, when a costume club’s leadership doesn’t have much regard for the club’s members, the leadership may make decisions that are not in the best interest of the members.
Disbanding a club without warning would be the most obvious example, but impossible to do anything about once it has occurred. Leadership that is not particularly transparent or doesn’t regularly communicate with the members are two other methods that the leadership’s amount of regard for the members could be revealed.
6. Vaguely Written Club Charter
A costume club’s charter is equivalent to a constitution. It defines how the club operates, how new members can be approved, how members are expected to behave, how disciplinary action is handled, etc.
But, what happens when a costume club’s charter is written so vaguely that many procedures aren’t really defined or some procedures aren’t defined at all? In this situation, such a charter grants the leadership relatively unlimited power because it doesn’t limit what they can do or define how things are supposed to be done.
This is precisely how the costume club that disbanded last week was able to do so with impunity: it’s charter did not define a procedure for how the club could be disbanded, so all that was needed was a simple majority of its now defunct council. The defunct costume club’s vaguely written charter was another red flag. 🚩
Concluding Remarks: A Learning Opportunity
We could go on, but suffice it to say that before joining a costume club (as we have advised in the past), make sure that you understand how the club is organized beforehand. All of the things explained above are potential red flags and the more red flags that exist for a costume club, the more better off you probably are by not joining it. If you do join it, just be prepared that its future may be questionable. The prime example is what actually happened one week ago today: if a club’s charter doesn’t explain how it can be disbanded, then it’s entirely possible that it could be disbanded in the blink of an eye by its leadership with no warning to the members.
There is a silver lining: failure should always be regarded as an opportunity to learn.
While the costume club that disbanded last week will never have the opportunity to learn from its mistakes since it no longer exists, it is still a learning opportunity for all other current and future costume clubs to understand how this particular club failed so that they don’t make the same mistakes that lead to its downfall.
Let that be the legacy of the failed costume club: for all other costume clubs to have a far better chance of long-term success.