Discussions from the WSAE Meeting with the Chairman of ASAE’s Board of Directors

When ASAE Board of Directors Chairman Velma Hart, CAE, led a conversation with area association executives and industry leaders this month, she prompted a lively discussion about where the association industry will find our future leaders and the shape of the leadership model in the coming years.

My favorite points from the discussion included:

  • Organizations of the future will be flatter, with fewer leaders dictating what to do and more reliance on a group.
  • Leveraging involvement requires more from leadership roles — leaders need to harness volunteers’ desire to give back and to connect with a cause.
  • Reliance more of strategic partners to bring expertise and direction to products and process.
  • For-profit business are beginning to place more value on sustainable business practices, whether that’s a “strategic” decision as Velma believes or a “desire” to do the right thing and help save the world. The participants asked, “Will that impact the role of non-profits, especially since for-profit companies may have much larger resources to get the work done?”

In particular, Velma was excited about the Association of the Future project through ASAE. The initiative invites young association staff members to engage volunteers in testing possible responses to the challenges and opportunities identified in ASAE’s ongoing trends research. Members are under 30 years old, once you turn 30, you are out. Velma is encouraged the project will help Association leaders understand what the organization of the future will look like.

My sense is there is a clear understanding that change and transformation are required, but the answers are still a work in progress. Leadership itself is going through a transformation, with the rise in social media giving a louder voice members and the influence of younger generations. True organizational change will come through a collaborative leadership style, but the need for strong leaders with vision and the ability to inspire are needed more today than ever.

Action Item
Make a list of 10 people in your organization who you think could be your next leader. Reach out to them and talk about the future.

photo source: Acronym Blog (ASAE)

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