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Common Attributes of Successful Chapters

Common Attributes of Successful Chapters

Here's the chance to add/subtract or discuss the list on page 13 of the May/June 2010 issue of The Harmonizer. Apologies if you came to this site earlier and didn't find this post as mentioned in the magazine. I just came back from vacation to find that the printer had managed to mail the issue nearly a week earlier than scheduled -- I thought I was going to have a few more days to put this post online!

If you don't agree with this list, take it up with me -- I take full responsibility for it ....

... unless you do like the list, in which case I emphasize that while the words are mine, the concepts didn't exactly spontaneously pop into my head. Here in Nashville, especially in the last 18 months, we've been talking about issues like these A LOT. I'm sure if I checked back into my meeting notes, I'd see some version of most of the below concepts. But I generated this based on little more than a personal brainstorming session and sent it around the office for feedback.

Hate it: MY FAULT. Like it: THANK THE STAFF. Clear?

So how does this list jibe with your experience? Some successful chapters prominently feature traits not listed below, but the idea is to identify traits that pretty much ALWAYS seem to be present in growing, thriving chapters.

Would you add anything? Remove something? Modify something? Your feedback is appreciated!


  • Officers lead by vision, persuasion and delegated authority rather than by edict
  • Membership includes at least one “spark plug”—a positive, visionary catalyst
  • Leaders consider mentoring and developing new leaders to be a high priority
  • A large variety of members are engaged in visible, meaningful weekly roles
  • Director has solid musical skills, develops musical leadership in others
  • Chapter gives priority to increasing its financial resources


  • Members agree on a clear definition of chapter success
  • Goals and vision are significant and pervasive enough to outlast various officer tenures
  • Chapter has outward-looking “causes,” e.g. community service, youth outreach
  • Chapter meetings are well planned, often with hour-to-hour or week-to-week variety
  • There is frequent, clear two-way communication among members and leaders
  • Chapter strives for high visibility in community, both in performances and publicity
  • Focus on competitions is neither too high nor too low
  • Members accountable to performance standards, chapter helps individuals succeed


  • Chapter leaders/members open to new ideas, positive change
  • Upbeat, optimistic atmosphere, sense of “going somewhere”
  • Chapter culture focused on giving rather than “what’s in it for me?”
  • Frequent recognition for individual accomplishments, large and small
  • Recruiting succeeds because of overall pride in chapter
  • There are true friendships and few personality conflicts among members
  • Members’ families are integrated in chapter life
  • Guests and new members always welcomed into warm, mentoring relationships

Please add/subtract/modify in the comments!