I attended a peerage vigil at Canterbury Faire, which followed hard on the heels of public Peerage Roundtable workshop. Both provided much food for thought about what qualities we look for or even expect in our Peers and senior officers.
Skill in their chosen areas, certainly, and also a degree of probity, restraint and care for others -- such that we are not (often) apologising for them, or seeking to protect newcomers from any unpleasant effects from such influential people. They should be people about whom we say "thank god!", not "oh god!" when they arrive at an event.
As an officer and a Pelican -- and a "people" Pelican at that -- it's natural that I should emphasise excellent communication, teamwork and a professional approach as goals we should all aspire to. These may be less important to the martial peers or the Laurels, just as the more arcane aspects of footwork or calligraphy are somewhat foreign to me. But for officers at any level, they are essential.
It's easy to choose to spend time, money and energy on martial and A&S areas -- or the arcana of a specific office, such as new lists tables or storage and transport options or submission and publishing rules. But how often do we - or our groups - make a concerted effort to invest in improving our consultation or decision-making processes, or focus on keeping our website consistently current and correct -- rather than just redesigning it or introducing a new technical underpinning every second year?
How often is the group or an officer likely to purchase (or borrow) and read "The Zen of Groups", rather than buy a new set of serving spoons, or replace some faded regalia?
The skills we to bring to the table when we take on an office are often assumed to exist, and assumed to be sufficient by default. This is rarely so. For smaller groups, the demands are usually light enough that this doesn't matter - events are small and infrequent, everyone knows each other well, and there is often mentoring or support from a parent group. I would never advise someone against taking on a College or Canton or small Shire office just because they've never been an SCA officer before, or don't already have the relevant knowledge. They'll cope.
But as the groups get larger and busier, the demands -- and the consequences of poor communication or people management -- get higher. Recognise this, and do something about it. As an individual, take responsibility for doing the best you can in your role -- not only for the immediate needs of your office, but for the wider group and Society which it serves. If that means doing some research, or sharing problems and ideas with your fellow officers or those from other groups, or working hard to build better communications where they have failed somewhat, please go the extra mile.
That level of commitment -- especially if it can be sustained -- not only generates good results for all concerned, it generates Peers.
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