Insights Blog

By QLK Team
on Dec 1, 2020
  • Blog
Opportunities & Challenges for New Leaders Taking the Reign from Longstanding Association Executives

Stepping into the shoes of a longstanding President of an association can be a daunting task. But it can also be a breath of fresh air in leading the association in a new direction to grow and prosper under new leadership.

The leader of a medical association controls the reigns to a powerful network of professionals. The power to influence and bring a new era of engagement is in their hands — grasping that responsibility is one of the main challenges a leader will face during their tenure. The ability to turn the appointment into a successful one lies in recruiting, retaining, and engaging new and existing members.

The first thing to realize is an iconic leader can never be replaced. This new position is one that must be looked at as a new chapter for the association. This is a chance to continue the work that is going well, and an exceptional opportunity for change and growth.

For these new leaders, focusing on direction, managing relationships, and understanding the market will be essential for success.


A new leader must gain traction in managerial effectiveness, guiding change and inspiring others. Managerial effectiveness pertains to time-management, prioritization, and getting up to speed with the job. Guiding change entails knowing how to mitigate consequences and overcoming the resistance to change. Inspiring others is the quickest way for an organization to see what kind of leader they have. Expectations will be high and the ability to navigate through the first six months are crucial for success.

Also look for continued education and advocacy opportunities, as well as connecting with other associations for members to get across different platforms. More opportunities for networking will increase engagement.

Managing Relationships

Everyone wants immediate results. It's the quickest way to determine how well someone is performing. However, when it comes to relationships with board members, almost 50% of CEOs wished they'd have done a better job at developing them. The same applies to associations.

Many facets of introducing oneself can get lost during the transition period. Managing expectations of what once was, with what is becoming, should be taken with great care. First impressions can make or break many relationships. The authenticity that exudes leadership, instead of forcing an act, is essential. Building trust with the people you work with and everyone that touches the association should be looked at as a high priority.

Understanding the Market

The American Medical Association today accounts for 25% of practicing physicians. Compare that with back in the 1950s when membership was 75%. The reason for the decline can be attributed to a variety of factors; politics sway members to come and go, as does the increasing competition from state and specialty medical organizations.

For an association to compete against others for dues and fees, it's imperative for the President to understand what is affecting the decisions of people on why they are joining, leaving or staying. This is an evolving situation and one the president should pay close attention to.

Executive Search from QLK

The process to find the right candidate for an executive position is an all-encompassing feat. It's a delicate process to ensure the candidate will be the right fit for the association. At QLK, we understand the unique talent that is required for these leaders.

Learn how QLK can help your association hire the best leader for you. Contact us today.