THE Chief Executive Officer is the highest-ranking officer in charge of the overall management of an organization. In the association context, the CEO title varies (President, Executive Director or Secretary General).
Based on my experience working with associations for over 30 years, I have learned at least six essential traits an association chief executive should possess. I collectively put these into the acronym, VIP CEO.
V: Visionary. A visionary CEO has a clear picture of how they envision the future of the organization. They set concrete steps to plan and execute the vision and lead the organization toward accomplishing these. For this to happen, the CEO must have a thorough understanding of and immersion with the purpose and culture of the association. Having a vision connotes continuity and long-term sustainability.
I: Inspirational. An inspirational CEO has a deep sense of values and responsibilities to create and effect a positive change. They are innovative and forward-thinking and dedicate their time and energy to the cause of the organization and to the welfare of its people. By being such, they also inspire others to be involved and contribute to the success of the association.
P: Passionate. A passionate CEO has strong beliefs and emotions of the organization and is always focused on what it can be, not only on what it is at the moment. They are constantly chasing the “next big thing” with the resolute belief of achieving it. They are a great communicator and listen genuinely to others to understand their needs and aspirations. Being passionate spreads excitement through the organization.
C: Courageous. A courageous CEO has the mental strength and moral fortitude to navigate, persevere and withstand any crisis or difficulty. They are also not afraid to make bold decisions as well as to seek out unfiltered feedback from those around them. Being brave during this pandemic has been a high point of most association CEOs who have weathered the challenges of the time.
E: Energetic. An energetic CEO shows vitality and enthusiasm, both physically and mentally. They are also fun-loving and sociable and are comfortable meeting new people, visiting new places and having new experiences. In doing so, they entice others to be energetic, too.
O: Open-minded. An open-minded CEO welcomes new ideas, arguments and information even if these do not necessarily align with what they are thinking. In short, they are open to learning from others and are willing to balance ideas with those of others. This breeds cohesion, creativity and innovation within the organization.
These attributes of an association CEO are not the “be-all and end-all” factors in leading the organization to stay ahead. At best, these are considerably robust enough to make an impact.
Octavio Peralta is currently the executive director of the UN Global Compact Network Philippines and founder and volunteer CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, the “association of associations.” E-mail: email@example.com.