Stay focused on mission

The new president of the national, not-for-profit organization urged his membership to remember: “The [organization] we passionately love is hardly some cumbersome, outmoded club of sticklers, with a medieval bureaucracy, silly … rules on fancy letterhead, one more movement rife with squabbles, opinions and disagreement.” No. All those elements might exist, or be perceived to exist within our boards, our membership structures and our collective actions. But your association — any association — exists for some other reason. Some higher purpose.

Do we allow ourselves to be distracted by process or diverted into passionate disputes over secondary matters? It is the fastest path toward driving off members and losing relevance.

Or do we stay focussed on mission, the shared aspirations that transcend structure, process and individual differences? When faced with the immediate, the urgent, do we keep that larger purpose in mind?

The speaker I quote is Archbishop Timothy Dolan, presiding at his first meeting as president of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It would certainly be pretentious and foolish to elevate our professional or trade group to the status of a church or consider our association a religion. But the reminder to keep first things first is certainly relevant.

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About Mark J. Golden, FASAE, CAE
Mark J. Golden, FASAE, CAE, is Executive Director of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) in Alexandria, Virginia. Prior CEO roles include a nearly fourteen-year tenure as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), Vienna, Virginia. Before joining NCRA staff , he spent eight years with the Personal Communications Industry Association (PCIA), Washington, D.C. He also spent 12 years with the Association of Telemessaging Services International (ATSI), Alexandria, Virginia Long active in the association community, Mr. Golden is a past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Center for Association Leadership, a past Vice Chairman of the ASAE Board of Directors, past Chair of the Center for Association Leadership’s Research Committee, and past member of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce's Association Committee of 100. He is the 2011 recipient of the American Society of Association Executive's Key Award, the highest honor ASAE bestows, to "honor the association CEO who demonstrates exceptional qualities of leadership in his or her own association, and displays a deep commitment to voluntary membership organizations as a whole.”

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