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How Associations Lead


When it comes to reviving our economy, the country’s leaders focus on encouraging entrepreneurship, small business, and private enterprise.We asked Henry Givray where associations factor into that mix.


Volunteer-governed organizations possess some incredible, amazing, mind-blowing, inherent strengths. An association is essentially a community of individuals who share a commit- ment, passion, and vested interest in a particular industry, profession, or cause. Obviously, trade associations represent companies, but a company doesn’t exist without individuals. Now here’s the kicker: These individuals are willing to


uine care, consistency — all pretty important stuff. But for an association, creating value means that you’ve


improved the state or condition of your individual stakehold- ers, industry, or profession. It may mean you’ve advanced your cause in a significant way. So in the broadest sense, when you think about what associations can do as it relates to the economy, it could be improving education, driving innovation, boosting productivity, or initiating incremental and even transformational change with possible ripple effects beyond the specific industry or profession. Associa- tions have this incredible power to harness the human potential in an impressive, cost-efficient manner. But, by their very nature, volunteer-governed organiza-


“Volunteer-governed organizations operate in an environment of planned and rapid turnover, and are subject to varying and often conflicting objectives, discontinuous interactions, and fragile commitments of time-pressed volunteer board members.”


give of their time, energy, dollars, and heart — for no com- pensation! Think about that. What an incredibly powerful and compelling force to be reckoned with. The possibilities to advance ideas, take action, drive desired outcomes, and create value are truly limitless. What do I mean by value creation? There’s a difference between delivering service and creating value. Service is about reliability, quality, gen-


tions have to also overcome some inherent hurdles and challenges. Volunteer-governed organizations operate in an environment of planned and rapid turnover, and are subject to varying and often conflicting objectives, discontinuous interactions, and fragile commitments of time-pressed volun- teer board members. To overcome these inherent hurdles and fulfill their prom-


ise, associations must not only have boards comprised of skilled, dedicated individuals, they must also acquire and possess certain organizational competencies such as effec- tive governance, strategic thinking and action taking, innova- tion, change management, and, most importantly, leadership. Building leadership capacity on the board and with the asso- ciation executive goes a long way toward ensuring the asso- ciation is vital, creates value, and is sustainable.


Please explain the difference. Motivation’s source of influence is often a carrot and/or a stick, but inspiration comes from the heart and it flows naturally and willingly. Think about certain human elements such as trust, com- mon purpose, hope, engagement, and shared meaning, among others. Their real and pervasive existence within an organization is an imperative in order to ensure sustainable success.


So you’re saying that there are CEOs of organizations who are successful in terms of bottom-line results, but that doesn’t mean that they’re great leaders. You got it. CEOs drive annual quantitative results. CEOs who also are true leaders build great, enduring companies. That does not mean they don’t do the first piece really well. They must and they do. Steve Jobs will go down as one of history’s greatest busi- ness people, visionaries, and innovators. The question is, what happens to Apple now without him? If Apple continues to be a great company and it endures over a long period of time, then I would say, “You know what? He’s passed the test of true lead- ership.”


76 pcmaconvene April 2012


So it’s a matter of instilling a culture? It’s funny that you mention that. I’ve concluded that there are three foundational requirements for building a great, enduring company, one of which is around articulating, aligning, nurtur- ing, and protecting an authentic culture that guides and inspires.


And how do you recognize and nurture leaders within an organization? Well, you bring up another good point. The second [founda- tional requirement] is around assembling and developing a tal- ented and cohesive executive management team. But the third foundational requirement is the hardest one of all — which


“CEOs drive annual quantitative results. CEOs who also are true leaders build great, enduring companies.”


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