In the June issue of Real Simple, there is a great article titled 5 Types of friends everyone should have. It didn’t take us long to consider the notion that association need these types of personalities as well.
The Comic Relief
Everyone needs a little humor. It keeps us grounded, keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. And, it is a great stress reliever, especially during down times. What’s more, it promotes a sense of community which often inspires creativity and innovation, thus productivity. Feeling good about the people around you, makes you want to work harder. Besides, who really wants to be in an association with no humor?
The Life Coach
One of our associations has created a “brain trust,” a group of past presidents. This group is there for guidance as well as moral support. Like the Life Coach in the RS article, these members don’t necessarily stay in regular contact, but are always willing to step up when needed. They are like that one friend we all have that knows us better then we know ourselves, and so, is in the perfect position to offer the best advice.
The Risk Taker
One of the biggest killers of association is stagnancy; doing the same thing year after year. The risk taker is willing to break the status quo and find new ways to rejuvenate the association. AADE is a prime example of this adventurous spirit. In this case, when the National organization decided to change the chapter structure, several volunteers stepped up to the challenge and were able to convince others to follow. The AADE MyNetwork is now thriving. Of course, some risks don’t work as well, but often the reactions to the failure lead to more energy and determination to get right the next time.
Associations need to be continually challenged, whether by their boards or their members. What’s more, associations need to be willing to accept the challenge. This is especially true for the “old-guard.” Being willing to listen to new and younger members, often the challengers, is important to an association’s vitality and sustainability. Like the Risk Taker, the Challenger is often the catalyst to rejuvenate a chapter by pushing for more innovation and productivity.
Several years ago, I received a call from a long time association and past board member who was fearful that his chapter was going under. “You can’t let that happen,” he told me. Another member of another chapter was concerned about the declining membership. “How can I help?” he asked, offering to make phone calls to lapsed members. Both of these members were loyal to their chapters, despite the lackluster activity in events and membership recruitment. They weren’t willing to accept a “business as usual” appearance when it wasn’t true. This loyalty is often the cornerstone that associations can continually build upon.
Can you identify each of these traits in your association members?