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Hit the Ground Running – What Does it Mean? To begin a venture with great energy, involvement, and competence. To immediately work very hard and successfully at a new activity. “If elected, they promise to hit the ground running in their first few weeks of office.”

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  • Hit the Ground Running – What Does it Mean?

  • To begin a venture with great energy, involvement, and competence.

  • To immediately work very hard and successfully at a new activity. “If elected, they promise to hit the ground running in their first few weeks of office.”

  • To be ready to work immediately on a new activity. “His previous experience will allow him to hit the ground running when he takes office in the chamber, association or society.”

First 100 Days

Begins about 60 days prior to the President taking office

The people
The People

  • Gather Their Team – volunteers, staff, experts, past leaders

  • Conduct an Orientation - communicate goals, achieve buy- in, and develop strategies

  • Inventory Committees – identify what committees exists and how they will help during the President’s term

The people cont d
The People (cont’d)

  • Build Staff Relations – ensure the chief elected officer understands the distinction in board/staff roles

  • People Performance – establish a process (if one does not exist) to evaluate performance of the chief staff officer as well as a board evaluation

  • Develop a Ladder of New Leaders – make leadership identification and recruitment a priority for increasing volunteer resources

  • Appoint Committee Chairs – decide to keep existing chairs or appoint new ones; identify the right people to advance the association’s goals

Looking inward
Looking Inward

Understand their leadership style; begin with an inventory of leadership traits…

  • Steward – See themselves as a steward of the organization; nobody owns it.

  • Facilitator – They have an opportunity to make things happen.

  • Ethical – They promote the highest standards and ethics.

  • Consensus Builder – Without being heavy handed, they offer good ideas and seek to build consensus.

  • Thought Leader – They are considered a thought leader to whom people respect and turn to.

  • Good Delegator – They know they can achieve more by asking for help, delegating projects and sharing the limelight.

  • Friend – They intend to leave their presidency with new friends and to maintain the important relations with whom they started your term.

  • Enthusiastic – Their enthusiasm will influence others to work for the organization.


  • Establish preferences for communications up front (emails, regular conference calls, phone calls, etc)

  • Encourage President to listen carefully to board and staff and pay attention actions and body language

  • Ensure President can clearly communicate the organization’s mission

Communications cont d
Communications (cont’d)

  • Spend time reviewing the organization’s principles, ethics and conflicts of interest

  • Support the President in tough decisions and ensure they have the facts (policies, data, etc) to make tough decisions

  • Encourage President to hold their opinion for last in Board and Executive Committee meetings

  • Stress the importance of reading all association communications including newsletters, minutes and emails so they are informed and knowledgeable

  • Remind President to show gratitude to volunteers, members and staff – it can go a long way


  • Begin preparing them for their term when they serve as President Elect or VP

  • Help set realistic goals to be accomplished during their term as well as for the first 100 days

  • Provide resources and materials necessary to fully prepare for Board meetings

  • Review the strategic plan and establish performance measures

  • Set a calendar for the year; advance planning will help ensure Board participation

  • Establish action-oriented agendas that a lot plenty of time for key discussions

Resources and structure
Resources and Structure

  • Share data from recent member surveys, SWOT analysis and/or any data that would help them understand the membership and organizational performance

  • If one does not exist, create Board Book or “playbook”

  • Review the budget in detail including any President expense lines

Resources and structure1
Resources and Structure

Organizational documents to be reviewed/shared with President:

  • Leadership Manual or Board Book

  • Bylaws

  • Article of Incorporation

  • Mission Statement and/or Statement of Purpose

  • Policies or the Policy Manual

  • Strategic Plan

  • Budget and Financial Reports

  • Marketing Plans

  • IRS Tax Documents (Public Records)

  • Staff Job Descriptions

  • Pending Contracts

Other resources for consideration
Other Resources for Consideration


  • ASAE and the Center for Association Leadership (

  • US Chamber of Commerce (

  • American Chamber of Commerce Executives (

  • BoardSource (


  • Fast Company

  • Good to Great

  • Execution, The Discipline of Getting Things Done

  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

  • E-Myth Revisited

  • The Perfect Board

  • Your Director Hat

  • Association Self Audit Manual

  • Board Responsibilities (laminated guide)

  • 7 Measures of Remarkable Associations

Common mistakes
Common Mistakes

  • Planning late or thinking planning will not make a difference.

  • Not building a team – thinking they can do it all themselves.

  • Thinking presidency means being the chief staff executive –

    wrong, they are very distinct roles with both being essential.

  • Not understanding the resources – thinking the resources are

    theirs for the spending.

  • Asking half way through their term, “Do we have a strategic plan?

  • Injecting their personality into everyone’s good intentions.

  • Petering out before their term ends; finding priorities more

    important than the organization.

  • Over-delegating and not being engaged enough to impact change.


  • What other resources have you provided your Chief Elected Officer that have proved to be beneficial?

  • Have you tried any unique approaches to onboarding a Chief Elected Officer?

When boards go bad
When Boards Go Bad

2:32 Superintendant loses his composure.

Airing grievances
Airing Grievances

(Please turn off annotations)

Symptoms of a dysfunctional board
Symptoms of a Dysfunctional Board

  • Unable to Set or Focus on Goals

  • If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t get there

  • Too many goals overwhelm organization’s resources

  • Decision-making is flawed

  • Inability to make tough decisions

  • No framework for decision-making

  • Not understanding the Board’s role and the individual Board member’s roles

  • Deflecting Board work to committees

  • Tabling issues

  • Destructive Criticism

  • Bomb-lobbing Board member (we “tried that years ago”)

  • Wreak havoc on the agenda

  • Inability to work productively with staff; always on a hunt to find issues (morale drop)

  • Inability to work cooperatively and reach consensus with a Board decision (will also publicly denounce a Board decision)

Symptoms of a dysfunctional board1
Symptoms of a Dysfunctional Board

  • Working in the Background vs. Being in the Spotlight

  • Working in the Background is an asset to a Board

  • Working constantly to be in the spotlight is a liability to a Board

  • Getting into the Weeds and Paralysis by Analysis

  • Arguing over coffee breaks at a conference with a $300,000 expense budget

  • Reviewing an issue and analyzing it to the point where nothing is accomplished. 

  • Infighting & Personality Issues

  • Inability to come to an agreement

  • Teamwork is not present; issues become personal

  • Difficult Leaders

  • Personal agendas and far reaching missions, contrary to the goals of the board or the association.

  • Little Team Work and Too Many Agendas

  • Conflicting ideas where the organization should go (goals)

  • Pulling in all directions and not moving in any one direction (strategic plan)

Case study abc board
Case Study: ABC Board


  • Overly inclusive – caused delays in decision making

  • Afraid off making decisions – unanimity trumped consensus

  • Discussion encouraged AFTER decision

  • Lack of clear charge of committees

  • One opinionated member led the board off track

  • Getting lost in the weeds

  • Second guessing decisions

  • People pleasing

  • Lack of preparation

What would YOU recommend for this board?

The cure
The Cure

There are tools provided during this session in the handout to effectively identify any symptoms and to effectively “cure” them in the long term.

Conduct a Strategic Planning Process

Review Mission, Vision, Values

Identify Key Goals

Identify Key Strategies

Develop Tactics (who, what, where, when and how)

Create a yearly operational Work Plan and conduct a new planning session every 3-5 years.

Develop Strategic Agendas and Approach

No margin, no mission.  No margin, no mission.  No margin, no mission.

Develop agendas that are strategic (each item has a strategic goal linked to it)

Create a strategic dashboard as a Board tool

The cure1
The Cure

Use Committees Effectively; no Committee work at the Board table

Committees, task forces, etc. were created so that Boards can function strategically. Committees do the legwork but do not replace the Board.

Utilize Board Social Events

Develop camaraderie and mutual respect

Learn more about your Board colleagues

Build rapport and respect

Volunteer Leader Recognition

Acknowledge the work of your peers on the Board

Praise the work of your committee and other non-Board volunteer leaders

The cure2
The Cure

Use Roberts Rules of Order

Board training in the use of Roberts Rules of Order is important in a well-run meeting 

Disarm the Board Critic

The best way to satisfy (or silence) a Board critic is to charge that person with finding solutions, rather than permitting them to constantly complain.

The second-best way is to disarm the critic with facts.

Communication, Communication and More Communication

The more we use our ears to listen and truly learn about our Board colleagues, the more apt we are to minimize communication issues or misinterpretation of what is being said.

Email, texting, etc. is an excellent tool but the personal contact made during a phone call is invaluable.

Rule: If there are three or more emails on a discussion, a phone call needs to take place.

We bring a different set of tools
We Bring a Different Set of Tools

  • Baldrige Examiner Precision & Emphasis

  • Nonprofit Practitioner Experience

  • Small Business Experience

  • Large Corporate Experience

  • International Experience

  • Mergers and Acquisitions Experience

  • Outcome-Based

  • Process to Results

  • Diverse Team

  • Engaged in the Profession

  • Beyond Strategic Planning

Association options footing
Association Options’ Footing

  • Baldrige Performance Excellence Program

  • Seton Hall University, Public Administration

  • American Society of Association Executives

  • Certified Association Executive

  • American Chamber of Commerce

  • American Chamber of Commerce Executives

  • Vistage International