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Notes from emerging leaders

During the afternoon yesterday at the Global Summit in DC, attendees were organized into homogenous groups (trade association executives, consultants, philanthropic groups, etc.) for discussion. Notes from those conversations were posted on the Summit's virtual site. Reading through them, one particular entry intrigued me.

Summit leader David Cooperrider asked a table of emerging leaders to talk about the qualities of the ideal association to work for. They said that their dream association would be:

What kind of association do you want to work for? The ideal association is...

- Bottom-up
- Multinational
- Technologically savvy
- Fluid and flexible
- Less bureaucratic
- Run like a business; fiscal responsibility, efficient and lean operations
- Collaborative; willing to work with other associations
- Mission focused; doesn't want to do all things for all people ("you have to say no" being something that has to go away)
- Aware of its membership and what they think (market driven)
- Providing real responsibilities and challenges for staff
- Does not reward people for doing there jobs; only awards staff for going beyond

What do you think? Would you add or subtract qualities from this list? Does your association come close to this ideal?



I couldn't agree more with the mission focused part of the list. So often, we do try to be all things to all people and our missions get diluted. We have members for a reason. Our membership requirements are there for a reason. These are the people whose needs we decided to meet back with the founding of our association. Diversifying is good, but there's also something to be said for doing a few things really well, as opposed to doing lots of things marginally well. Missions are usually broad enough that you have lots of room for creatively serving (or leading) your members, but it takes discipline to say no to a new idea because it detracts from an organization's mission.

Now, at the same time, it's also important to know when - gasp - your mission may not be relevant any more. And if that's the case, it's time to look at the needs you're meeting or more importantly, the needs you could or should be meeting. Times change and so do needs. Sticking to your mission and being willing to have an honest conversation about is absolutely a critical component of the ideal association.

Interesting that as a baby boomer I have the same vision :)

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