Change and Leadership

Drawing on original articles on Change and Leadership, Day-One opens with discussion on the relationship between change and leadership, especially as it is experienced by the association CEO.

Absent Change, leadership is meaningless.
Absent Leadership, change is chaos.

Change begets Leadership
Leadership begets Change

Commonalities of the Association CEO Experience

Experiences, expectations, characteristics and aspirations that inform and affect the Association CEO’s perspective and sense of function, purpose and place. Three examples of the 25 Commonalties developed to date follow: 

Characteristics of the Successful CEO

Taking satisfaction from group achievement
Oriented toward deep horizon
The ultimate go-to, get-it-done person on staff
Effective in resource acquisition and application
Requires a sense of meaning in what is being done

Management/Leadership Continuum

In general, over time, the CEO’s responsibilities will grow from one of a largely management nature to one of an increasingly leadership nature.

Zone of Complexity

That area on the management/leadership continuum where the professional growth of the CEO engages in a full partnership with an informed and active Board leadership.


Organizational Fundamentals of Every Association

An Organizational Fundamental is core to the existence and/or continuance of every association and substantively impactful on its value to membership and/or its operational viability and integrity. (NOTE: Fundamentals are structural and objective whereas Commonalities tend to be experiential and subjective.) Three examples of the 18 Organizational Fundamentals follow:

Issues/Services Continuum

At any particular time, every association is somewhere on the issues/services continuum. It could be 60% services, 40% issues, 50/50, 40/60. Somewhere. It could have both corporate and individual members, each of which has its own view on the issues/services continuum. Whatever the mix, it is there and it is subject to the forces and vagaries of time and circumstance. Understanding an association’s issues/services balance and dynamic is essential to providing the management and leadership it needs to succeed.


Board/Staff Dynamic

While an association’s relevance to its members must be the ultimate responsibility of the Board, the very existence of a CEO points to the desire of the Board for assistance in meeting its responsibilities. Having a clear understanding of where an association is most comfortable on the Board/Staff Continuum will greatly facilitate the CEO’s ability to support the Board in ensuring the association’s relevance, even to affecting where the organization is on the continuum. It is a question of leadership and every association and its CEO must come to its own, best place on it.


Networking: The Specifics

For trade associations, networking can be broken down into four elements; business development, corporate development, community and the serendipitous synaptic event. For the membership association, insert professional development and career development for the first two with the second two remaining the same.

ELEMENT IV - An Association’s Deliverables

Products, services or activities that an association provides or undertakes in the support, promotion or protection of the needs and interests of its members and stakeholders as well as their field of activity.

Deliverables are distinguishable from Fundamentals largely in the nature, timeliness and autonomy with and by which the CEO can alter, develop and initiate them.

ELEMENT V - Responsibilities of the Association CEO

The Association CEO’s responsibilities are of two types: Overarching and Core Practical. The Overarching responsibilities are:

  • Aligning the association’s Deliverables with the current status of its Fundamentals
  • Being - or becoming - the Board’s authority on Associationdom.


The Core Practical Responsibilities are:


  • Management
  • Visioning
  • Communicativity
  • Values/Culture
  • Membership Engagement
  • Risk Assessment
  • Financial Performance
  • Mission

ELEMENT VI - Board/CEO Partnership

The discussion opens on the article Board/CEO Partnership - Foundation of Association Leadership. The focus of the discussion is on the Board/CEO Partnership as the key enabling element of organizational success and professional growth and development.

Core Grounding of the Board/CEO Partnership

The combined aspects and drive of Board ownership and CEO purpose join to form a shared and mutually beneficial interest in and commitment to the organization’s success and sense of well-being.