Three Leadership ColLAB takeaways your association needs to leverage

In March, our Nimble AMS team attended the Leadership ColLAB conference hosted in Arlington Heights, Illinois. The .orgCommunity event featured interactive conversations led by engaging speakers, with decades of leadership experience in the association sphere.  
We spent our time in round table discussion with association leadership professionals, learning and sharing our own experiences. Here are three can’t miss essential takeaways from the Leadership ColLab event.  

Leadership ColLAB strategies for your association

Leverage these can’t miss methods at your organization: 

1. Focus on your association’s culture to sharpen your mission and values
Nancy MacRae, the CEO of the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA,) led a session titled “Connecting Culture, Vision and Values.” She spoke about the importance of keeping your association’s culture at the center of your mission and having it be your benchmark for building relationships at all organizational levels.

MacRae highlighted ENA’s internal Culture Journey, sharing about the years of numerous leadership transitions. Growth was occurring at ENA, but at a significantly declining rate. Overall processes were stagnant, outdated, and lacked innovation.

With work, MacRae was able to improve the culture at ENA. MacRae suggested following the “three P’s” and asking these vision-related questions to improve your association’s culture and sharpen your mission:

  • People. Does your association have the right staff in the right roles?  
  • Purpose. Why does your association do what it does? 
  • Partnerships. Who can strategically help your association?  

2. How to build and maintain trust at your organization
Sharon Rice, Managing Director of .orgSource, facilitated a session on trust building during disruptive times. While times may be unstable, and member trust in your organization may be low, Rice recommended innovative strategies to help rebuild trust before it’s too late. 

To build trust, it’s wise to create transparency at your institution by sharing the status of certain initiatives and an honest timetable on when change is coming. Allow your members to offer feedback and ask questions in town halls. Answer questions as directly as possible, and if you don’t have the answer a member wants, follow up later. If your members desire something to be changed at your organization, be sure to deliver.

To keep members invested in your organization, you’ll need to effectively communicate your association’s vision, initiatives, values, and culture. You’ll also want to ensure your members understand the value of your organization for their membership dollars. Demonstrating your association’s benefits will separate you from the industry competition. 

3. Flexibility is the key to your association’s growth
Kristine Hilmer, the President and CEO of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association (WRA), spoke at a panel discussion titled, “Suddenly in the Spotlight. That’ll Never Happen to Us.” Nancy MacRae of the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA,) also offered her thoughts. 

During the pandemic, massive disruptions occurred in both the restaurant and healthcare industries. MacRae explained that measuring member engagement data became difficult due to shifting processes and initiatives. However, overall member engagement increased. To compensate, Hilmer said the WRA needed to be flexible. Rather than focusing on a set time in the office, Hilmer emphasized building relationships with staff and members to maintain trust.

MacRae encouraged associations to be vulnerable with their key stakeholders, saying it’s okay to tell the board, “I don’t know what to do.” Being vulnerable allows you to lean on the collective expertise of your board and collaborate to form a plan, often better than the one you could create. Practicing flexibility in your leadership will ultimately drive growth at your association.

Learn even more strategies to advance your association

Our Nimble AMS team learned so much at the Leadership ColLAB event! We hope you discovered helpful strategies in our blog. Get key takeaways delivered directly to your inbox when you subscribe to our Nimble AMS blog!


More industry insights, delivered to your inbox. Sign up for our blog!

Recommended for you

Blog Subscribe

This will close in 0 seconds