The Sistine Chapel is the center of global attention this week while Cardinals gather to choose a new Pope. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI resigned from his position earlier this year; a surprising move that left many people wondering and even a little concerned about the Catholic Church’s future leadership.
This got me thinking about changes in leadership. Fortunately (and unfortunately), small staff associations handle changes in leadership better, certainly without the entire world watching a chimney for white smoke.
But there are many types of leaders, and regardless of how often they turnover, it’s never a bad idea to reflect on the executive branch of your association.
Picture courtesy of Reuters.com
Which leadership style does your association use? Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer here. Every association is different, and every membership is best served differently.
Monarchy: divine right to association management
The chances of a son or daughter taking over for an association leader is rather slim, but the position as association leader can be “inherited.” Instead of parent to child, imagine a mentor/protégé relationship. The problem with this type of leadership is a leader who worked in the past may not work in the future. Also a membership base may be frustrated with not having been consulted on the leadership of their association. So perhaps the best leadership option for you is a…
Democratic election: the people deem you fit to lead
For this you need a few people who want to lead, and members who are engaged enough to vote. You likely won’t need to campaign or debate, but you’ll need a solid plan in place for how the voting will work and how the leadership will fall into place. Will the runner-up go back to being a member, go on the board (if you have one) or serve as some kind of VP? Also be careful not to drive off an active, involved member who didn’t get elected to the position he or she wanted.
Governing board: share the leadership
Many associations have a President and a Board, but your association might work better with just a cooperative board running things. That way each board member can be head of a “department” that’s valuable to the association: Event Chair, Membership Chair, etc. The problem here is that voting on big picture issues could be a tie, so make sure you have an odd number or a tiebreaker plan.
Obviously these aren’t the only types of leadership, but this can get you started. Again, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to association leadership, it’s whatever works best for your members. And don’t stress out! The whole world isn’t watching for white smoke from your chimney.