Posted in Board of Directors, CEO

BACon BLOG - The Association President-CEO Team: Help Each Other SucceedThe association President and CEO are the member and staff leaders of the association. They need to work well with one another. But even beyond that, they should be actively working to ensure that the other is succeeding at their position and job.

There should never be any surprises between the President and CEO. Communication about the association should be constant and ongoing and should include discussions about the good things going on at the association and the bad news about the association.

When the President and CEO disagree with one another, support one another. If the President makes a decision that the CEO does not concur with, the CEO should work doubly hard to ensure that the decision is implemented effectively and that every opportunity is given for the decision to work. After all, it’s possible that the President is correct.

Show that you are a united team. Recognize that you are the leaders of the association and that all eyes are on you at every meeting, large and small. Show these observers that you are a united team… laugh with one another, smile when you’re discussing a subject, put your arm around one another in a collegial way. These small symbolic gestures will go a long way towards showing the association members and staff that you are a united team working on behalf of the association.

Don’t get pulled into the “Are we a member-driven or a staff-driven association” argument. It is a silly and false argument. Associations should be “Member-led and staff-implemented” with member leaders making high-level decisions for the association and staff working to implement the board’s decisions and manage the association. These are the appropriate roles for member leaders and staff and the President and CEO need to work together to make sure that members and staff understand these roles.

So work with one another, support one another, have fun with one another… and give one another an occasional hug. And help each other succeed!

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