We Asked, You Answered: New Skills for Today’s Leaders

To be more effective, association leaders constantly need to evolve and develop new skills—whether that’s getting comfortable with technology or improving their soft skills. Here’s a look at what your colleagues want to get better at.

Knowing that association pros are always looking at how they can become better leaders and professionals, we asked our readers what new skill they’re looking currently to acquire or improve.

Read on for a roundup of their responses.

Jaleen Edwards

Associate Director, Member and Scholar Development, The Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law

To most people this skill is almost natural, but for some reason, it has been very difficult for me to develop over my entire career: the art of small talk. I attend many of our programs and can easily talk with our members at the registration desk. I assist members with any problems or concerns at events or over the phone and respond to their email requests, but when it comes to making in-person conversation with our attorneys, I am at a loss. Although I have an MBA and have been working in the association space for over a decade, trying to have a conversation over cocktails or lunch is always a challenge for me.

Juliana Nicolini

PAC and Grassroots Advocacy Manager, American Urological Association

Short, but impactful writing. I am competing for people’s attention and interest on email all the time, so I want to be compelling but brief.

Stephen Martin

Managing Director, Member Education/Professional Development, American Institute of Architects

Leveraging emerging technologies like AI. Generative AI and machine learning will change the way we approach professional development and continuing education. We can build richer, more effective programs that integrate AI-enabled practice and reinforcement. AI can also be leveraged to make the course development process nimbler, increasing speed to market and responsiveness to changing member needs.

Michele Nichols

Project Manager, American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine

Strategic Planning. Throughout my career in hospitality and nonprofit management, I have been given projects, and I execute them with few questions asked. Now that I’m mid-career and in association management, I want to be part of the conversation and learn how decision-makers pull together the yearly and long-term strategies.

Chris DeJoy

Senior Editor, Helicopter Association International

The ability to use Photoshop, including AI-driven features, to enhance online, as well as potentially print content. When I first began in publishing 40 years ago, I didn’t foresee needing to do much more than write and edit newsletter and magazine content, and critique or help guide the design of such editorial. But now that I handle various types of content (e.g., e-blasts, online newsletter and magazine stories, and photo essays), I want to boost my productivity and versatility by being able to produce more of the art elements of each piece myself. In that way, I hope to be not only more self-reliant but also more helpful to my colleagues.

Kimberly Hotz

Assistant Director, Exhibits, Sponsorships and Advertising, American Council of Engineering Companies

Negotiation. This helps not only with creating contracts but also with working with coworkers, vendors, and members.

(mohd izzuan/iStock)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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