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Executive Director's Message: Is it your time to ‘run the race’?

November 2011

In my last article, I wrote about the "race for relevance." We, as an association, continue to evaluate what it takes for us to remain relevant now, and in the future. One aspect of this is the successful recruitment, orientation, and integration of new leaders on the AIS Council. As the AIS Nominating Committee prepares to discuss the future leadership needs of the association, it is important to talk about the reasons why people consider having their name placed on the ballot for a position of leadership.

In their 2011 book, Race for Relevance, Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers discuss the top three factors that usually come into play when members consider such opportunities:

Altruism: "The motivator here is an unselfish desire to serve and advance the best interests of the organization" (p. 31). This would normally be seen in those who have received much value from the association and wanting to "give back."

Self-interest: "The motivator here is personal gain or an advantage for the (organization) that the director represents" (p. 31). For us, this would be less of a factor since the interests of universities is usually narrowly focused and not directly influenced by actions or initiatives of the association.

Ego: "The motivator here is self-importance or self-esteem, or having something that looks good on the resume" (p. 31). There is nothing wrong with pursuing a leadership role like this in order to attain some personal gain in terms of increased networking with colleagues from around the world. Additionally, the work on the council can be a good source of service credit.

If these are the top reasons for someone to consider running for election, what are some of the skill sets that are most needed? A few that are listed by the authors (p. 33-4) include:

  • Demonstrated leadership skills (Not an ability to manage, but to lead)
  • A 3 to 5 year horizon in their thinking
  • Experience guiding an association into the future
  • Ability to direct the association's resources to achieve its goals and objectives
  • Ability to inspire and empower others
  • Examples of cultivating productive teamwork

The selection process that the AIS Nominating Committee will be performing is very important for the association. As Coerver and Byers point out, "The director identification and screening process must be a disciplined approach that ensures that candidates have proven leadership ability, not just agreeable personalities, or charisma, or the ability to say the correct things.”

The next aspect that the AIS Nominating Committee will be evaluating is that of governance. Governing an association with the size and scope of AIS can be challenging. It is therefore important that candidates have a track record that demonstrates abilities in the following areas:

  • Know what it means to govern
  • Understand the duties and functions of a board and the role of a director
  • Experience of governing appropriately and effectively in the past
  • Examples of elevating their peers from micromanaging to governance
  • Experience making judgments in the interest of the entire membership and deal with conflicting interests

If this is the type of leadership role that you aspire to, then I encourage you to consider placing your name before the AIS Nominating Committee for consideration. Please send your statement of intent to the chairman of the AIS Nominating Committee, Doug Vogel (, president-elect. Or, if you have any questions about this, please contact me or Doug.

I look forward to hearing from those you who are interested in being part of this "race"!

Pete Tinsley, CAE
Executive Director

Skype: ptinsley

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