Monday, June 22, 2015

The Very Essence

This week is my annual strategic retreat with my association's Board of Directors. As CEO, it's my job both to facilitate the event and to make several presentations--one on our activities during the past year, what we've been able to accomplish and where we may have fallen short, and the second on my view on our priorities moving forward.

The exercise has got me thinking a lot about my role and the role of my Board and, by extension, the role of association staff executives and association Boards in general. And I think the very essence of their complementary roles can be expressed in the following list of questions, and understanding that each has the final responsibility for answering them.

The Board

  • Why does this organization exist? What’s it for?
  • What are the handful of mechanisms that we have for doing that? What businesses are we in?
  • What change do we want to create in each of those areas?
  • What can we measure that will tell us that change is happening? What are the needles that we will seek to move?

The Staff Executive

  • Given the resources available, how can we best move those needles?
  • Are they moving?
  • If they’re not moving, why?
  • If it's a failure of performance, then I'd better deal with it, because that's my job.
  • If it's a lack a resources, then I'd better take it back to the Board, because that's theirs.

Doesn't that pretty much sum it up?

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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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