Leadership Lessons for Associations From a Wartime General (8:15) – Association Hustle Podcast Episode 259



What does it mean to lead an organization these days? Tune in to this week’s episode as JP shares lessons he learned from a wartime general and how they can be applied to your organization.
Hello and welcome to JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. President of The Moery Company, JP’s mission is to arm today’s associations with insight and strategy to thrive and a progressively complex and competitive business landscape. 21st century associations must move forward with a little bit of hustle and revenue development at their core.
Here’s JP.
Today’s episode is about leadership. I don’t think there are bad companies or bad associations, however, I believe that there is poor leadership and that is the primary reason why associations and organizations don’t perform well. Yes, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and I understand it’s challenging which means strong leadership even more so important right now.
If you study business – even if you’re a casual follower – there are so many examples of companies and associations that grow, flourish, and expand when times are bad and industries are in decline. Even in times like these! Take a look at the association business, some organizations are circling down the drain right now while others are adjusting, rebounding, and increasing industry influence. In any case, leadership is a major factor regarding the trajectory.
What does it mean to lead an organization now?
I’ve been studying and reading materials from about half a century ago from General Bruce Clarke. West Point, World War II, Korea. He wrote the book on how to lead an army and so much of the information resonated with me. I’d like to share with you a few of General Clarke’s teachings with my own twist because, in some ways, I believe we are in a war. We’re in a business war right now.
1. Don’t ignore problems. They’ve been exposed during this battle. You know what they are your organization. This may be a little bit different than commanding an army, however, I believe it is important for organizations to address their problems; it’s an essential part of leadership.
If you’re unable to articulate the challenges and problems and address them as a team, you fail to portray credibility. Your team knows what’s going on and that you’re ignoring it. Your team knows an issue likely before you even do and if you address problems or challenges regularly, you will have a reputation as a leader that does not ignore issues.
In the same vein, I’ve learned that permissiveness doesn’t work. When you address problems, you’re going to be pulled to ignore or avoid them. Don’t take the bait. You can tell how great a coach is because of the things that they don’t allow. They’re not permissive. They stay on the details and that’s why they’re great coaches. That is why great leaders don’t ignore problems, they address them. Great leaders look for challenges.
2. Tell your team what you expect, it is not their job to ask you. Clarity is important characteristic of a great leader.
An important exercise that I learned from Manager Tools, a podcast and a blog, that is absolutely critical to my leadership – and a very simple task – is to ask your team members to list the five most important responsibilities of their job. You, as the leader or manager, list the five most important things of their job, compare and give feedback. My guess is there are some folks that are going to be totally aligned with you while there may be others that you’re not on the same page with. This gives you the opportunity to address specifically what you expect and how. It’s unbelievably powerful.
3. Training is critical. I have to be absolutely transparent with you, we’re not very good at it. I think it’s a challenge for smaller companies because there’s so much to do and you don’t find the time to train your people. Training your team needs to be systemic. I have to create the systems and for my company to get better. We have to educate and train the team to move in fire. Move in fire, to adapt. We got to do it routinely and it has to be authentic.
Train the team in multiple disciplines.
Ask the sales team to review a contract. Ask the database team to review a sales proposal. Have the CFO deliver a sales pitch, I guarantee you everybody will learn from that. It’s not to be redundant, bureaucratic, or to catch people in an uncomfortable situation. There’s a reason for this. When someone goes down or a colleague needs some time or they have to take a vacation or an extended leave or they leave for another opportunity, you have some redundancies in place and you have people that can step into the gap.
Problems need to be addressed. Expectations are made. Your team – army if you will – will feel well trained and equipped which will lead to a motivated and tight organization.
Here is what general Bruce Clarke says about professionalism. And, once again, I’ll give you my interpretation for associations. Raise the army, get your team in place, and train them. Organize them. Put the best people in charge of initiatives, including new efforts. Eliminate parts of your organization that are no longer needed. Equip them. Does your database stink? Is your CRM a mess? Fix it! Train them.
Senior leaders, do you know how to read a balance sheet? Does the membership team have a specific rebuttal for objections that they hear over and over again? Lead and command the team. Set the expectations and keep those expectations. Move the army. Take your value proposition and change it. Change how you deliver it. Change how you sell it. Move and attack!
Maintain the army, keep your members retained. Don’t just bill them. Have a process to maintain members and staff. Supply the army, provide the association with resources. Pay your staff. Encourage them. Add relevant programs to the value proposition so members feel like they’re supplied with good value. Employ them and deploy them. Take action and they will stay sharp.
Communicate. We have a three weekly team calls focusing on what is happening in the space, wins and losses, and addressing problems.
Friends, I went a little longer than usual. However, I think it’s an unbelievable time for leadership and it’s a big deal. Why? Because your business is changing forever. Whether we like it or not, it’s changed forever and now is the time for leadership. I want to thank you for listening all the way through so I’ve got a gift for you. If you like this content, email me JP@MoeryCompany.com or head over to this page to enter your information and I will send you a complimentary copy of my first book, Association Hustle.
Thanks for listening.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. We’d love to connect with you. Check out our blog at moerycompany.com and subscribe to our weekly newsletter. You can also connect with JP on LinkedIn and Twitter at @JPMoery, as well as The Moery’s Company’s Instagram and Facebook page. To purchase a copy of JP’s book, Association Hustle: Top Strategies for Association Growth, go to JPMoery.com.
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