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Leading with Purpose: How to be a More Effective Association Leader

There is often a sentiment in non-profits to do more with less. This line of thinking leads organizations to limit their capacity and resources as they work within the constraints of limited staffing, limited time, and limited money. So how can associations who are bound by such constraints do more with less? 

The answer begins and ends with leadership. 

Lead with Purpose

People are at the heart of everything you do. Human capital is the most valuable resource an association has, and those who recognize this and invest in people are the ones who see the greatest return on investment. Having strong leadership can have a paramount effect on everything your organization does. 

Organizational leadership strongly influences employee motivation and engagement, establishes culture, and ultimately defines organizational success. Leading with a strong vision, strategy and purpose, while putting people first, can empower teams to reach their full potential. When people are empowered, the production will follow. 

Celebrate Diverse Thinking

Leadership exists at all levels of an organization, often in spite of title or position, and it is a sign of good leadership when those with no platform are consistently offered one. 

Instilling the self-confidence in people to speak up, or speak out,  without the fear of repercussions is crucial to organizational growth. Encouraging individuals to bring forward new ideas, unique perspectives and challenge conventions is what leadership is all about. 

Boards and organizations should encourage their community, whether that be staff, volunteers or their members, to come forward with ideas and feedback, and celebrate those who do. Leaders cultivate a culture of engagement by actively involving those around them in decision-making processes, seeking their input, and valuing their contributions.

Provide Opportunity

Leadership is something that is largely and primarily learned through experience. Giving people the opportunity to challenge themselves is critical for their own personal growth. 

Supportive organizational cultures have been proven to play a key role in enabling learning and growth and fostering innovative responses to challenges.

Establishing a culture that encourages malleability can unify key stakeholders around evolving goals and opportunities while ensuring buy-in and alignment to strategic priorities. 

Give your people opportunities to grow, and the organization will grow with them. 

Foster A Culture of Collaboration

Associations that prioritize developing the quality of their team can succeed far beyond much larger organizations that have an abundance of resources who do not put their people first. So how do we develop these skills and create a culture that can drive innovative performance and bring with it organizational sustainability? 

Foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork within the association. Encourage members, volunteers and staff to work together towards common goals, leveraging each other's strengths and expertise and learning from each other. By fostering a culture of collaboration even organizations with the most limited resources can thrive.


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