From Where I Sit: Engaging Leaders
Collaboration is a formula for success when it comes to volunteer leadership.
Every year, this special issue of Associations Now focuses on the importance of volunteer leadership. Many ASAE members have a unique perspective on board service and operations: They not only staff the volunteer boards of their own associations but also volunteer to serve on boards and committees of other professional organizations or causes they care about. There is nothing like being a new “back bench” board member of an organization to make you think about how you can do a better job of staffing the board governing your own association.
In my organization, I always judge the success of a committee or board meeting by the amount and depth of volunteer discussion during the meeting. If volunteers are engaged, this very likely means the agenda topics are succinctly briefed, relevant, and important to the volunteers.
As an association executive, you are probably familiar with the phrase “member driven, staff led.” This is the philosophy behind the process ASAE uses in working with the board throughout its operating year. This approach is all about volunteer engagement, and it strikes the right balance between an organization’s staff and its volunteer leaders.
In this process, staff oversees the ongoing work of ASAE’s many councils and committees, while committee and section leaders work with the board to identify and evaluate strategic opportunities. The board focuses on these strategic initiatives to ensure the organization remains at the forefront of developments and trends critical to the association and volunteer community.
This past November, for example, the board and volunteer leadership team focused on two critical strategic issues: mobile communications and the impact of the looming tax-reform debate in Congress on the tax-exempt sector. These discussions are influencing ASAE’s work this year and may result in strategic initiatives in next year’s plan of work.
In any organization, it is vital that volunteer leaders spend most of their time keeping the association relevant to the community it serves. This issue is full of thought leadership and practical advice on how to do just that. Enjoy the issue, and keep thinking strategically!
(Photo by Vincent Ricardel)