What does leadership look like in modern membership organisations?
There is an ever-increasing need within membership bodies to accelerate growth, create additional diversity and be relevant within challenging and fast-changing political, social and economic landscapes.
What definitive qualities and characteristics do membership bodies need to be successful in this context? Having worked in executive search with membership organisations for over 14 years, I have seen that leaders increasingly need to be:
- Developing managerial effectiveness and inspiring staff at all levels of the organisation to grow, develop and cope with change;
- Able to lead increasingly diverse teams of people with more complex needs and aspirations;
- Confidently developing relationships partners with and proactively (and sensitively) managing stakeholder relationships;
- Agile, constantly leading and embedding changes whilst ensuring a positive experience for those involved and affected.
Do your leadership team members demonstrate these qualities? If not what’s the risk?
Is there unconscious bias in membership recruitment?
I’m still finding that many appointments in the sector are people with substantial and direct experience of working within membership organisations. Whilst there is usually a positive inclination to find candidates with fresh ideas and perspectives, ‘outsiders’ are rarely appointed. So, why do we still opt for safe appointments and seek comfort in industry-specific knowledge when we are seeking positive transformation?
Finding individuals who can demonstrate the above qualities — whatever their background — is exciting, as are their new perspectives and ideas to meet the challenges. People who have transferable leadership skills and can comfortably move across sector boundaries with credibility and pick up new industry sectors are in high demand. You need to have a good proposition and work hard to attract them.
If you really are committed to widening the pool of candidates, what will you do to differentiate your organisation and attract such people?
This is where we can help.
Tapping into different sectors and talent pools to attract proven leaders, provides greater options for your organisation, but it takes a real commitment and no small investment to do this well.
That said, it could be the difference between organisational success and failure in the future – how do you put a price on that?