A former ASA chairman shares what he has gained from his involvement in ASA.Posted 11/16/2005
By Stan Stephenson
Editor's Note: AutoInc. will be featuring Q&A articles with past and present board members of the Automotive Service Association (ASA) to show the benefits of volunteer leadership. The articles will run in the December, January and February issues in the Around ASA department. To kick off the series, W. Howard Lewis, AAM, past chairman of ASA, shares his thoughts on what he gained from his involvement in ASA.
One word that I would use to sum up my leadership years in the Automotive Service Association: Great! Before I became chairman of ASA, I had moved through the ranks of leadership in the state of Washington. I had served as secretary, treasurer and president of our local chapter, did a stint as treasurer of our state affiliate and then served as general director before becoming chairman in 2000.
Serving in ASA leadership benefited me tremendously. One of the biggest ways was that it helped me become a better speaker. Like many people, I had a difficult time speaking in front of large groups of people. But ASA leadership presented me with many opportunities to make presentations. I learned how to organize my thoughts in a cohesive manner and then communicate it in a way that others would understand.
Good communication skills are priceless. They can serve you well in anything you do. I not only benefited from them in my role as owner of L&B Auto Repair but also in my involvement in other organizations. Currently, I'm involved in my church. As a result of my years in ASA leadership, I have learned to deal with people better and gain insights into how to work together as a team.
Speaking of working with other people, serving in ASA leadership taught me that you need to be able to work with others who you don't always agree with. At the local chapter level, most everyone sees everything your way. The further you go up the leadership ladder, you run into mixed opinions. Disagreements are a part of business. Knowing how to work through them can be key to solving problems.
People may often shy away from leadership roles because of the demands placed on time. Yes, commitment to leadership can be demanding. It takes you away from your business, your family and other commitments that you may have. But I can tell you that the time you invest is definitely worth it. I was fortunate that I had a good base of people working for me who were backing me up in my business when I was away. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to take off for days or a week at a time traveling the country on behalf of ASA. The Automotive Management Institute (AMI) offered several classes in hiring people that helped me hire the best people for my business.
One benefit to leadership that I didn't realize I was going to appreciate so much was that I learned more about our association and how it ran. I learned about ASA from the inside out and appreciated how hard our board works for the membership. A long time ago, there was a false perception that the board was running the association for their benefit. But I learned quickly that the guys in leadership were good, honest people. Their motives were simply to make ASA stronger and help our members run their businesses better.
The friendships and relationships that I developed are the best part about my leadership years in ASA. I can truly say I have made some friends for life as a result of my years on the board. When I have a big decision to make, I turn to one of my ASA buddies for advice. They are there and they understand me.
Finally, I would recommend leadership to anyone because it's a lot of fun. Unfortunately or fortunately, my reputation as a prankster precedes me even now. But who says you can't have fun and serve your fellow members at the same time? I did.
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