The Sensitive Subject Of Term Limits For Board Members


The election process has been prominent in the headlines and I noticed how some candidates believe holding office is a lifelong thing.  Here, in California where term limits became prevalent for elected officials in holding state office, there are those that have “trampoline” through eligible elected positions, and if out of options, attempt to remain as “puppet masters” through family members.

I have long been a proponent of term limits, especially when mentoring to organizations and board memberships.  This is something I have advocated even when involving yours truly.  I have been asked on more than one occasion to extend a leadership capacity or board representation, but I’ve declined as I believe that the baton should be handed-off for others to contribute their energies and ideas.

The Gordon Ramsey Chronicles

I love Gordon Ramsey hosted television shows, especially Kitchen or Hotel Nightmares.  If you’ve watched either of these programs restaurants or hotels are featured in desperate need of renovation and/or change in management.  Sometimes Ramsey is successful and other times, despite the obvious need for change is denied.  When serving as a facilitator of board training, frequently I encounter similarity with organizations.

When groups become stagnant, lacking productivity (recruitment, funding, etc.) often, assessments point to leadership issues.  Despite all good attentions organizations become identified by individuals, not purpose.  So change is not a popular idea to embrace.

So Very Hard to Go…

For some it is a very hard thing to let go or to be in-directly supportive.  I have known some individuals to exhibit withdrawals via a depressive state if their name is not listed on a formal letterhead.  I’ve encountered multiple reasons why some leaders decline the notion to consider moving on.  The one excuse that I find ridiculous, my contingency dictates my term limits.  However that contingency is usually led by that same person. Then, there are those that simply don’t wish to lose “the perks.” The benefits range from financial gain, travel or sitting at a head table.  Sadly, I’ve known situations when some are finally forced out; the ice box has been raided and the cupboards are bare.

The Term Emeritus

I know of organizations where the term “past president or chair” seems to be utilized ridiculously.  If used, that term is to distinguish an immediate past office holder, now the Emeritus title is used by some to list individuals formerly holding that post over 10 years ago – Come on, get a life.

Open the Doors to Others

Not to undervalue or disrespect the contribution of many, but you’re only as strong as your weakest links and unfortunately, an individual in a long term role of leadership may represent both sides.

I find it ironic that the same organizations, associations and groups that are supposed to be advocates for change and opportunities, face resistance to restrict new energies, ideas and the potential contributions offered by others.  These components represent the nucleus of value your group will and should always demand to be productive and successful.  Substituting the words from a line of great song message “All I’m Saying is Give People a Chance.”


Al "Skip" Solorzano
Al "Skip" Solorzano
SKIP is a recognized expert in the field of diversity with keen ability to build strategic alliances, and successfully expand supplier diversity initiatives. He has consulted with multiple client sectors including pharmaceutical, insurance, manufacturing, health care, telecommunications, utilities nonprofit organizations, business entities and employee groups. As a facilitator and learning consultant presents unique perspectives to develop solutions; and promote qualities to successfully work with others through diversity, team-building and leadership development. Solorzano has been featured as a presenter at conferences sponsored by such entities as: AT&T, The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Social Security Administration. A former Governor appointee and member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials; Solorzano has been recognized by United Way as Most Influential Hispanics of the Bay Area; and a recipient of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Corporate Advocate of the Year award. Skip’s career endeavors as a corporate liaison, community leader and entrepreneur, provides the unique insight to write on an array of subject matter from learning processes; diversity; with a shared humorous perspective of life.

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