Congratulations!  You’ve just been handed the gavel as the brand new president of your association.  You’re excited, quivering with ideas and enthusiasm, and, if the truth be told, scared half to death.  This quick-reference list of hints and tips should help.

 

  • Breathe.  Unless you see arterial spray or open flame, there are few crises that can’t wait for you to take a calming breath and focus.
  • Write on a post-it note “This too shall pass” and place it in an easily visible spot.  Good, bad or indifferent, this too shall pass.  Don’t get too absorbed in the good stuff or too worried by the bad stuff. The really busy spots, like your first three months or so, will eventually settle some, so just hang in there.
  • It’s okay to take things that are serious seriously, but if you take yourself too seriously too often, you run the risk of other people thinking they don’t need to. Take the role of president more seriously than you take yourself.
  • Memorize the mission statement of your association, and have a good working grip on your bylaws while you’re at it.
  • Identify members who would make good leaders and contact them yourself to ask them to serve.  People remember that sort of thing for years.
  • Remember, you are the president of the association, not the owner. The association belongs to the members.
  • Know the laws pertaining to your association and industry, and the code of ethics, and don’t break them. Ever.
  • Depending on the term definitions of your association, you likely only have 365 days to make your mark on your organization’s history.  This is no time to procrastinate.
  • Build a team – you cannot do this alone.
  • Watch what you say and be kind whenever possible. Everyone sticks a foot in his mouth from time to time, but don’t make your tongue your permanent footrest.
  • Work with your executive director, but don’t expect her to work for you personally. Her focus is the association as a whole.
  • Trust your executive director, be up front and open about all issues pertaining to the association, and don’t do anything controversial or questionable without her advice.
  • Remember other people’s time is as valuable to them as yours is to you, so make sure meetings start and stop on time as scheduled.
  • People shout less if they feel like you were listening when they were still speaking quietly.
  • Never use your position for personal gain. Ever.
  • Promote and encourage diverse opinions, styles, interests, cultures and people. Be inclusive, not exclusive.
  • Always remember that what you do may speak so loudly that no one will be able to hear what you say, so make sure the two agree.
  • If you promise to get back to someone, do it, and on the same day if at all possible.
  • Show up.  Those who don’t attend get assigned all the tasks nobody who showed up wants.
  • Celebrate small successes – true accomplishment is cumulative.
  • You don’t have to get a home run with every at-bat.  Ty Cobb’s best season was a .420 average.  You just have to show up and keep swinging.