Posted in Board of Directors, CEO

BACon Blog - Association Boards: Praise Your CEO!The CEO of your association has obviously had a successful career or they would not be your CEO. They have moved up the ladder, addressed challenges and opportunities, and demonstrated their leadership capabilities. And they finally landed a coveted CEO position at your organization.

Someone this successful doesn’t need to be told by their board leaders and members that they are doing a good job, right? Wrong!

While your CEO might eschew the need to be praised for the job they are doing (Oh, shucks, I’m just thankful to be working for such a great organization!) everyone needs to get regular affirmation on the good work they are accomplishing. This is just as true for your CEO as for the rest of the association staff.

And maybe your CEO needs regular reassurance more than other members of the association staff. Being a CEO is exciting and rewarding… but it can also be a very lonely job. It is rare for someone to stop and tell the CEO that they are doing a great job helping to lead the association.

That is where you come in.

As a board leader or board member, you should be having regular conversations with your CEO about their performance. This should be more often than once a year during the annual performance review. The board should be talking at least quarterly with the CEO about their work, their achievements, and challenges they face and how they are overcoming them.

The natural tendency during performance review discussions is to focus on the negative. And as a leader and member of the board you should absolutely address the weaknesses of the CEO so that they know your views and can take corrective action to get better at their job.

But you should also let your CEO know about the positive work they are doing… and let them know that you appreciate it and are glad to have them as your CEO. This will help to cement a positive working relationship between the board and your CEO and will help you to retain your CEO in their position.

So tell your CEO that they are doing a great job and that you love working with them. You may be surprised at how much they appreciate the praise!

John Barnes is President of Barnes Association Consultants. Barnes Association Consultants helps association Boards and CEOs address the wide range of challenges and opportunities facing today’s association leaders. Barnes Association Consultants helps association leaders make their associations better.

John can be reached at or 703.321.6866. For more information about Barnes Association Consultants, go to