Originally Published: Monday, 26 June 2000 Author: Kara Pritchard
Published to: interact_articles_lugs/Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Our LUG Leaders

I've been doing some thinking about LUG leadership the last few weeks. What types of people lead LUGs, and what does the community think about them? The response to those questions varies widely depending on the audience you ask. A lot of people don't think twice of our LUG leaders, and a lot of others revere them to a level of godliness. Why?

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I've been doing some thinking about LUG leadership the last few weeks. What types of people lead LUGs, and what does the community think about them? The response to those questions varies widely depending on the audience you ask. A lot of people don't think twice of our LUG leaders, and a lot of others revere them to a level of godliness. Why?

It's unimaginable how many Linux User Groups are in existance today. Many of yesterday's Unix user groups have spawned off Linux Special Interest Groups (SIGs) or even themselves converted into Linux User Groups. There are more than 250 (active) in the United States alone, and I can't specifically state how many outside of the US, but there are 100 more between Canada and Germany alone! It's very possible that there are over 1000 LUGs in the world. Amazing!

Taking on the project of starting or leading a LUG is a rather large undertaking. It's time consuming, and can become a problem as the monthly schedule always seems to start conflicting with other events, or the LUG leader's personal life. In my experience, these bad things are way overshadowed by the benefits of being in LUG administration. No other avenue allows you to evangelize Linux without being either a Sales Suit or otherwise deemed as being weird. :)

There are a lot of things you probably don't know about your LUG leader. He has some traits that make him or her very appealing to some people, and very appalling to others.

In my experience, I've found three types of LUG leaders... The good, the bad, and the ugly. No, I'm kidding, but just barely.

There are a number of LUG leaders who don't turn out to be great ones. Many of them are good intentioned, but for one reason or another, just don't work out. Sometimes lack of time or time management is the cause. Other times lack of motivation wins out. Some people only want to start the LUG for their fame and self confidence. Other people fail because they're control freaks that won't share the responsibility. This isn't a pattern unique to running LUGs. Not only is it common amongst all types of Users Groups, but it's often true in Real Life management as well.

There's a fine line between when a trait is good and when it is bad. The key is moderation. Control on events is good. Controlling is bad. Self confidence is good. Ego from you know where is bad. Casual is good. Riot is bad. Management is good. Stalin is bad. You get the idea.

I've never met the perfect LUG leader. Thank goodness for that. We'd all feel inadequate then. But I have met a number of very good ones in the last 5 years or so I've had to work with various LUGs.

A good LUG leader is always there. They don't cancel their meetings every time they'd rather take a nap. They don't cancel their meetings because attendance was low last month.

A good LUG leader is responsible. They are willing to pick up where someone else left off. They are willing to do whatever is needed to get the job done. They do it all without (or with little) complaint.

A good LUG leader is personally involved. They run a LUG like a business, but keep it next to their heart. They're willing to donate themselves and their resources (time, money, etc) for the group. They are friends with the group, and not just its members.

There are lots of things that make a good LUG leader. It's a lot of those things that give some leaders a bad rap. For some of us, LUG leadership is what we love to do. It's a hobby and it's our way for giving back. We're prepared to make sure things get done. Often it's our friends and fellow members who don't come through with their promises that makes it appear we're doing everything. Some of us are involved in more than one LUG. Not because we want to rule everything to take things over, but because we see the advantages of sharing resources amongst multiple LUGs and providing the example that more LUGs across the world should do.

My thoughts about various LUG leaders (both prominent and not) was started a while back, when one of the LUG members of LUCI, the Linux Users of Central Illinois, refused to let us pay for our meal after the meeting. Not only does he insist on paying for ours, but anyone else who sits down with us. It's become a regular event, and it just amazes me that one member could think so much of what little we do for this group. LUG leaders make a much bigger impact on people than I'd ever thought.

With that in mind, do your LUG leader a favor, and drop them a line letting them know your appreciation. Take this time to let them know what you do like, and what you don't. Leaders aren't mind readers, and they can only do what they think is best if they know what you want.





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