Leadership in Ham Radio

by Gus Arguelles, 4F1EAA


The reader might wonder why a "management" looking article would appear in a Ham Webpage. Perhaps this author should be writing about DXing, contests, or some technical subjects. Unfortunately, the success and failures of so many ham organizations, both at the club level and the national organization rests on the leadership and administrative skills of our elective officials. It is no surprise therefore to see related leadership issues described elsewhere in this Webpage.


Leadership Paradigms

Everybody has his idea of the word Leader. Let us therefore tackle the word paradigm. Briefly, paradigm means our map or perception of reality, our outlook, understanding, or for the mathematically inclined, our "mathematical model" of reality. Our paradigms shape our actions and determine our success. The best of attitudes and enthusiasm would still lead us to the wrong end or make us miss our mark if we have the wrong map or the wrong paradigm.

Defining a Leader or leadership styles unfortunately depends on our paradigm of leadership. An authoritarian oriented person will define the Leader as a person who is responsible for getting "his members" to follow the rules and the Leader. On the other end of the scale, a Leader may be defined as the representation of the aspirations of his group, who serves his "flock like the Good Shepherd." The last definition sounds spiritual and it is! I do not want to start a debate since my purpose is to show that paradigms determine the behavior of some leaders. My other purpose is to bring out basic principles or realities that our ham leaders must accept. I hope that the acceptance of these principles will change their behavior for the benefit of the organization.


Paradigm and Behavior

A Leader who believes in power will exercise authority even without acknowledging the corresponding responsibility. He could become obsessed with protocol and administrative rituals even at the expense of effectiveness and purpose. It seems that the leader mentioned in the editorial elsewhere in this webpage harbors that paradigm. He wants to exercise authority with his signatures yet deny responsibility in the contents of the documents that he so authorizes. From the legal and management standpoint this is obviously wrong. Since he also believes that Leaders are infallible and beyond reproach, it is normally impossible for him to admit his mistakes and much more apologize to parties that he may have wronged.

The other Leader believes in developing people under his care. His authority comes from competence, enthusiasm and strength of character as he represents the sentiments and aspirations of his group. The Good Shepherd taught his followers and led by example. In modern parlance we now call this empowerment. We enable our members to attain their stated mission by developing them, facilitating processes and focusing on meeting their needs.

We therefore see how a Leader’s paradigm influences his behavior. Paradigms are molded by experience. He maybe merely is emulating the past President of his ham club or civic organization and their values.



If paradigms are maps, principles are realities. Whatever the paradigms of the Leader he must be aware of the following principles hard and cold as they are. It is to be hoped that, awareness should change his behavior.

  1. Activities are attractive that members love to participate and are not forced. They see the benefits, funs and relevance to their hobby and personal interest. They do not feel burdened as if it were paying taxes.
  2. Fund raising activities are meritorious and reasonable. Members willingly participate because they believe in the cause, have fun, and reap benefits. Since members know how their money is spent, they have no doubts as to the competence or integrity of their leaders.

A business proprietor as a Leader can demand obedience and servitude from his employees since he pays them. A leader of any ham organization, club or the national organization is elected by the dues paying members and spends their money when he carryout official functions. The members therefore are his bosses and he should not boss them around!

I hope that this short article will enlighten leaders and leader-to-be about their perceptions or paradigms and how these influences their behavior. Most of all I hope that they accept the realities of the organization that they were elected to serve.

I welcome comments and reactions to this article. Send an e-mail to [email protected] and I will try to respond to you.

73 de Gus

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