Leadership Lessons with our CEO


Recently our CEO, Edward Barisa, was asked by the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) to share some advice for the next generation of leaders. Here is what Ed had to say about the lessons he has learned:

Association management is all about people. It took me a while to learn that. I thought it was about the technical aspects of managing well – bottom lines, strategic plans, operational plans, risk management assessments, etc., nope – that’s not the meat in the sandwich. It’s about people.

  1. You need to not be afraid to surround yourself with staff that are smarter than you.
  2. Staff want to do well, to be successful, to bring results to the table, so let them. Don’t get in their way by micromanaging. If you do, they will delegate all decisions upwards.
  3. Don’t be afraid to let non-performers go. Hard working, productive employees resent working in the next cubicle to someone who gets paid the same but does not earn it.

The same applies for the board of directors – it’s about people. You can be so-so on the aforementioned technical aspects of managing the organization but you have to get the “care and feeding” of your volunteers right:

  1. Directors are individuals and you have to keep that in mind when dealing with board members.
  2. Find out what their “self-interest” is early in the game.
  3. They don’t like to be surprised. If the sky is going to fall – let them know when!

In conclusion – my advice to the next generation of association leaders is this – nothing changes – it’s about people. They may now use Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Vimeo, Instagram and I started with snail mail, fax and eventually email – it is still about people.

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