January 27, 2023

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Stay ahead with LEAD – BusinessMirror

AFTER more than 30 years of experience as an association board member, I have come to the conclusion that leadership is about people, planning and passionate execution, or what I call the “3 Ps of leadership”. This is divided into four elements with the acronym “LEAD”.

L: On an equal footing with people. Beginning with your members, board of directors and employees, fairness, accountability and transparency are hallmarks of good leadership.

I remember when I accepted the position of CEO of an association many years ago, my first suggestion to the board was to hold a retreat to review the purpose, mission and vision of our organization and create a strategic plan to guide us forward. The outcome was remarkable, not only in terms of new and fresh statements of purpose, mission and vision for the association, but also in terms of a strategic plan that is owned and relevant to all stakeholders.

Leveling with humans is also about keeping all key stakeholders constantly informed about what’s going on in the organization, whether it’s good news or bad news. Communicating and engaging with your constituencies is vital. People value authenticity, truthfulness, and honesty, especially when it comes from their boss.

E: Execute effectively and efficiently. Equally important is the implementation of plans with pinpoint efficiency and effectiveness. Here, attention to detail is the norm.

Effective execution means you are able to monitor and measure your organization’s performance, hence the need to develop Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs include member acquisition, engagement and retention rates, revenue to assets ratio, membership services provided, visibility measures and budget usage.

Efficient execution, on the other hand, requires that your organizational structure is not only adapted to its mandate but also flexible enough to maneuver in uncertain times. It is important to ensure that the organization can function well despite remote work and layoffs.

A: Act decisively. Part of execution, but more related to leadership, is the CEO’s ability to respond thoughtfully and decisively to issues and challenges that the organization faces in its day-to-day work. A good leader is someone who makes informed decisions, hence the need to know the ins and outs of the organization’s business and specialty. This can only happen if the leader is primarily technically competent in relation to the issue the association is promoting or representing.

It is also worth noting that while decision-making is a process in which everyone in the organization is required to contribute their share of ideas and beliefs, the ultimate responsibility for the successful operation of the organization is still the leader.

D: Drive with passion. Associations are like small democracies where members, board, staff and volunteers interact with each other and reach consensus on issues they and their organization face. This democracy also includes board elections and respect for the rights of all those involved. For all the uniqueness and complexity of the association, the CEO must be able to serve these vast and diverse interests with flair and wisdom, and more importantly, passion.

Octavio Peralta is currently Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Network Philippines and Founder and Honorary CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, the Association of Associations. Email: bobby@pcaae.org.