Leading an Association is less about what you know, or who you know. It’s more about how you are. And coaching is a useful way to better understand yourself, connect better with your people and move your Association forward.
How did you get your role as the leader of your Association? Perhaps you were good at what you did; membership growth, or lobbying or events.Or perhaps you came into the role, from outside of the Association sector, bringing with you a specialist knowledge of the community you serve.
What about your ability to lead?
A question to raise about the appointment of leaders is how many are chosen because of a proven ability to lead. Typically, the emphasis has been on what someone knows. It’s shifted in recent times to the value of their network, and who they know. But on both counts, the confidence of the candidate and that of the board appointing them to lead an Association, stems from what or who they know. Not about how they are, as a leader.
How does that strike you?
As a leader of your Association, was it true for you? And when you think back to the early days of your appointment, how much use was your knowledge when it came to leading your Association? And as you went forward, what did it contribute to your efforts to move the Association in a useful direction? What use is it now?
What you know is not to be disregarded. But as a leader it is less useful.
For your Association to grow and develop under your care, it has to happen through your people. And the largest part of your contribution to this is about how you show up.
Why is this an important topic?
The simple answer is that the meaning of good leadership has changed, and these changes make an understanding of coaching more relevant and necessary for Association leaders than ever before.
There are 3 key changes that are particularly relevant for Association leaders:
- From ‘leader as expert’ to ‘leader as enabler’: your team are the experts. It’s your role to expand their expertise, harness it and turn it to the Associations advantage.
- From ‘leader as served’ to ‘leader as servant’: ask not ‘here’s what I want you to do.’ Ask ‘what can I do for you to make this happen?’
- From ‘leader as one’ to ‘leader as many’: it’s not up to just one person to be the leader. Your job is to inspire and develop every member of your team to lead.
Making the shift from one place to the other cannot be achieved by what you know or your status. Your role as the leader is to be the catalyst for your team’s progress and development. And coaching can be very useful in enabling you to do that.
Here are some of the ways that coaching can contribute to what’s required of leaders of Associations.
Coaching creates a culture of trust and personal growth perfect for Associations. Associations are often small to medium sized enterprises. Coaching gives you the tools to grow your people. Whether salaried staff, or volunteers, sponsors or board members, the growth of your people is your Association’s best chance to grow overall.
Coaching motivates people: It fuels the 3 key drivers that motivate people: Daniel Pink in his excellent book “Drive” highlights 3 conditions for people to be motivated: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Coaching is a very useful in creating these 3 conditions for your people.
Coaching is about the present and the future: Associations are all about progress, but they often get stuck in the past or in repeat behaviours. Coaching is useful in defining where you are now, where you want to get to, your options to get there and then choosing the best options and turning these into action.
For leaders of Associations today, what you know, or who you know is not enough. It’s about how you are. And coaching gives you the tools to better understand this and make a real difference to your team, your Association and therefore your community.