As an organizational leader, you are likely wearing way too many hats. One minute you are attending a board meeting, the next, you’re reviewing bylaws and approving event proposals. It’s a reality many association executives face – being pulled in multiple directions because there is always something demanding attention. The role of executive extends far beyond “leader” and includes responsibilities such as committees, community initiatives, campaigns, conferences, etc. – the list goes on! But what if there was a way to take off a few hats and get back to the mission at hand? 

Oftentimes, associations are doing so much that they lose sight of their mission and end up going down paths that don’t impact the growth of the organization. You wouldn’t expect to walk into a hospital and learn that they know nothing about medicine, or walk into a bank and discover they know nothing about finances. The same goes for your organization – you don’t want prospective members learning that your association doesn’t truly know its member base and their interests. That would surely be a quick way to deter them from joining your ranks. Prioritizing members should be the central focus of your organization.  

We all have an innate drive to do something bigger and better, but success is really in the small details…in finding the hat with the perfect fit. If you are consumed by tasks or initiatives that don’t serve members and instead are focusing on things that dilute your value proposition, you are putting your organization at risk. And we all know that membership growth and retention directly correlate to our organization’s success.

What does finding the hat with the perfect fit mean? 

…Realizing that big-picture and unfocused ideas can be distracting 

…Narrowing your focus toward membership value (that ties back to your mission!) 

…Recognizing you might be engaging in antiquated programs and initiatives that need to be revamped, or even abandoned. They might have been around forever but can detract from the mission of your organization. 

It is well documented that there are zones we find ourselves in that are most productive and profitable, and zones that detract us from our mission. We’ve all been in the “Drudgery Zone,” where we are completing work we dread. Or maybe we find ourselves in the “Distraction Zone,” completing tangential tasks that cause you to lose sight of what really needs to be done. The sweet spot – the place you should aspire to reach – is the “Desire Zone.” This is where you are completing work that propels your organization forward and keeps you and your members inspired and motivated. 

So remember, the extra hats – they aren’t important. Yes, we want to be adaptive to change and act with a sense of urgency, but prioritizing members is the key to success. If your work is not mission-critical and member-centric, it’s time to reassess and change direction. 

My team and I have decades of experience working with associations to help them restructure, refocus and pinpoint what their members need. Let’s work together and find out what your organization needs to accomplish its mission.