The Need to Develop Association Leadership

The need for associations to develop Leadership is always important but arguably even more important now in these challenging economic times. It is becoming more evident that CEOs, Principals and C Level Executives are finding it more and more difficult to find the time to be a Leader with their Associations. What is becoming more prevalent is the less senior or Mid-Managers are now more involved in Trade Associations. Of course involving mid-managers on a Board can result in new issues and possibly unique problems.
Because mid-managers are typically younger and rarely have Board experience it is essential for Association Execs to work with these Directors to impress upon them their unique role and the limitations of Boards.

Unfortunately without assistance, these inexperienced Directors can take a Board in a direction that may not be ideal for the association and the industry as a whole. The other problem with inexperienced mid-managers is that they have never been the ultimate person responsible for an organization and sometimes have difficulty seeing the big picture and rather focus on matters that can benefit their own corporate entity. The obvious problem would be disruption of the Board-Staff paradigm. You can expect more involvement and unfortunately involvement way beyond standard board protocol.

The obvious solution is positive communication with and within the Leadership, but that sometimes is easier said than done. Having the Chair of the Board take the lead to assist in the direction of the Board is imperative.  It is the Chair’s responsibility to Lead.  It is also important for the Asociation Exec to know when the obvious friction cannot be be solved. Though it is suggested to involve a former Chair or an individual that all respect to intercede in making the communication friction-free; but like many relationships, there are times that personalities just don’t click no matter what you try. In such situations it is important to try as hard as you can to work out the relationship but when it becomes apparent a separation is inevitable, the Exec needs to plan for the future and his/her next stop. If you have given your best and you can sleep at night, well that is all one can ask.


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