Change and Leadership

Drawing on original articles on Change and Leadership, the program opens with a 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 19 Commonalties developed to date follow: 

Characteristics of the Successful CEO

  • Taking satisfaction from group achievement

  • Oriented toward deep and broad horizon

  • Need for meaning and purpose in what is getting done

  • Awareness of and an ear for the needs and interests of others

  • Instinct for consensus and an ease in building it

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.


Association Fundamentals

Association Fundamentals are 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 parts; 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.

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.

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 and first resource on the association and what associations do.  

The Core Practical Responsibilities are:

  • Leadership

  • Management

  • Planning/Visioning

  • Board Governance

  • Representation

  • Culture

  • Membership Engagement

  • Risk Management

  • Financial Integrity

  • Mission Achievement

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 nature and thrust of Board ownership combined with the purpose and professional engagement of the CEO can be expected to form a beneficial and mutually shared interest in and commitment to the association’s success and the well-being of its members.