Yesterday an article appeared in Associations Now, that while aimed at new association directors, can be applied to Chamber executives as well. In it, the author Mark Athitakis highlighted tips from the book The New CEO’s Guide by Texas Society of Association Executives’ CEO Beth Brooks. Brooks had some worthwhile suggestions for new leaders that’s also fitting chamber CEO advice.
New Chamber CEO Advice
Review Your Board and Its Role
According to Brooks, ensuring your board understands the duties of board service and volunteer leadership falls on you as a new executive. Don’t assume this has already been done or that just because your board members have been there a while that they fully know what is expected of them. Take some time to review the by-laws and other issues of governance and then meet with your board to go over expectations. Ethics and non-compliance with expected duties should also be reviewed. If there’s something that’s not working for the group, this is a good time to look into it and consider changing it.
As a new leader you’ll need to earn the trust of your members and your board. As Brooks says, “If you don’t have trust, you don’t have any staying power with that association.” The same is true in the chamber world. You need to spend time assessing the current environment, the dynamics surrounding the group, and board expectations of you.
Reach Out for Help
Brooks suggests having a “kitchen cabinet” of advisers, a group of coaches who each have a particular skill set. While this may be hard to come by in your immediate community, there’s no reason to limit your search there. The Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook is home to 3,000+ chamber professionals who are willing to answer questions, brainstorm solutions, and provide guidance on what worked for them.
While each chamber operates a little differently, the help you can get from other chamber members is invaluable.