Dealing with Difficult Board Members

Every experienced association leader has encountered a challenging Board member at some point. I recall an incident from my early career where I served on a Board with an individual who resorted to throwing things at people when faced with disagreement (not surprisingly, I didn’t remain on that Board for long).

Dealing with a difficult Board member can present challenges that extend beyond the confines of the Boardroom. Whether it involves disagreements over strategy or clashes in personalities, there are several strategies that can assist in effectively addressing such situations:

Communicate openly and transparently.

One key to dealing with a difficult Board member is to ensure open and transparent communication. This means being clear and direct in your communication and setting clear expectations for how you expect to work together. Don’t expect subtle hints to work.

Seek to understand their perspective.

They may be expressing a valid opinion in a challenging manner. It’s important to try to understand the perspective of a difficult Board member and consider their concerns and ideas. This may require active listening and asking questions to get a better understanding of their point of view.

Establish clear boundaries.

To prevent conflicts from escalating, it’s important to establish clear boundaries and communicate these to the difficult Board member. This could include setting limits on the amount of time you’re willing to spend discussing certain issues or establishing clear rules for communication.

Encourage collaboration.

Encouraging collaboration and teamwork can help diffuse tension and foster a more positive and productive environment. Consider encouraging the difficult Board member to work with other team members on projects and tasks to help build relationships and foster a sense of teamwork.

Seek support from other Board members.

If you’re struggling to effectively manage a difficult Board member, it can be helpful to seek support and guidance from other members of the Board. This could involve seeking the help of a neutral third party, such as a mediator, to facilitate discussions and find resolution.

Consider alternative dispute resolution.

If conflicts with a difficult Board member are unable to be resolved through normal channels, it may be necessary to consider alternative dispute resolution methods. This could include mediation or arbitration to help find a resolution that is acceptable to both parties.

Remove the Board member.

Removing a difficult Board member should be considered as a last resort when all other attempts to resolve the issues have been exhausted. It is essential to follow the proper procedures and consult legal guidance to ensure the process is conducted appropriately and within the boundaries of the governing rules.

Take care of your own well-being.

Managing a difficult Board member can be stressful and can take a toll on your well-being. It’s important to take care of yourself and seek support when needed. This could involve seeking the help of a coach or counsellor, or finding ways to manage stress, such as through regular exercise or mindfulness practices.

If you are looking for support to ensure your Board is performing optimally, I recommend having a chat with the team at Enterprise Care – specialists in association governance.

Common Pitfalls To Avoid When Developing Your Associations Purpose and Vision

A clear sense of purpose and vision is essential for the success and growth of your organisation. However, it can be easy to fall into common pitfalls when it comes to developing these important guiding principles. Here are some of the common mistakes to avoid when seeking to create a purpose and vision that truly resonates with your members and stakeholders:

Keep it succinct.

Keep your vision and purpose statements short and powerful. No one is going to be motivated by a vision and purpose that requires a cup of tea and a lie down halfway through.  

Don’t make assumptions about your members’ values and goals.

It’s important to engage your membership in the process of defining your purpose and vision. This means soliciting their input and feedback, and being open to their ideas and perspectives.

Avoid being too broad or vague.

A purpose or vision statement that is too broad or vague will lack the necessary focus and direction to guide your organisation’s actions. Be specific and clear about what you hope to achieve, and how you plan to get there.

Don’t neglect to consider the needs of your stakeholders.

There may be people who are not currently members as your existing purpose is unclear or mis-aligned. Your purpose and vision should not just reflect the desires of your membership, but also take into account the needs and concerns of other stakeholders, such as staff, partners, and the broader community.

Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.

A purpose or vision statement should inspire and motivate, and sometimes that means going against the grain or thinking outside the box. Don’t be afraid to be bold and innovative in your approach.

Create a narrative.

Make sure that your purpose and vision are aligned and complementary. The vision statement is the end state you want to achieve and the purpose is how you are getting there. Statements that fit together create a cohesive and consistent direction for your organisation.

Don’t forget to review and revise.

As your organisation grows and evolves, so too should your purpose and vision. Regularly review and revise these guiding principles to ensure that they remain relevant and meaningful to your organisation and its stakeholders.

Don’t neglect to communicate and live your purpose and vision.

Once you have developed your purpose and vision, it’s important to clearly communicate them to your members and stakeholders. But more importantly, you must actively work to live these principles in everything you do as an organisation.

If you need a briefing on the future of associations for your board or a facilitator to ensure the success of your next strategic planning process, please contact Belinda Moore.

Practical Tips for Successfully Implementing Your Association’s Strategic Plan

Developing a strategic plan is an important step for associations looking to achieve their purpose and goals, but implementing the plan can be a challenge. Here are some practical tips for successfully implementing your association’s strategic plan:

Communicate the plan

Clearly communicate the strategic plan to all stakeholders, including staff, members, and board members. Consider holding informational meetings or creating a summary document to ensure that everyone understands the plan and their role in its implementation.

Assign ownership

Assign specific tasks and responsibilities to individuals or teams to ensure that the plan is implemented effectively. Consider using project management tools or software to track progress and ensure that tasks are completed on time.

Set clear goals and targets

Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals and targets to help guide the implementation process and measure progress. Regularly review and update these goals as needed.

Monitor progress

Regularly monitor progress and track key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure that the plan is on track. Consider setting up dashboards or metrics to track progress and identify areas for improvement.

Stay flexible

Be prepared to adapt and adjust the plan as needed, as circumstances and priorities may change over time. Consider holding regular check-ins or review meetings to assess progress and make any necessary adjustments.

Seek feedback

Involve all stakeholders in the implementation process and encourage them to provide feedback and ideas for improvement. Consider holding focus groups or surveys to gather insights and identify any challenges or opportunities that may arise.

Celebrate successes

Regularly celebrate successes and milestones along the way to keep momentum and motivation high. Consider holding events or recognising team members for their contributions to the implementation process.

If you need a briefing on associations for your board, or a facilitator to ensure the success of your next strategic planning process, email Belinda Moore for more information on how we can assist.

The Ingredients for Successful Strategic Planning

A good strategic plan acts are a roadmap to the future of your association. If you want that roadmap to be as clear and easy to follow as possible, ensure you have considered the following: 

Clearly defined goals and objectives

It is important for associations to have clearly defined goals and objectives that are aligned with their purpose and vision. This helps to ensure that resources are being used effectively and that progress can be measured. For example, an association that is focused on promoting sustainability within its industry may set a goal to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% within the next five years.

Stakeholder engagement

Involving stakeholders in the strategic planning process can help to gather valuable insights and perspective and build buy-in and support for the plan. For example, an association that is considering implementing a new membership model may seek feedback from its members and other stakeholders to ensure that the model meets their needs and expectations.

Data and analytics

Using data and analytics in the strategic planning process can help associations make informed decisions and better understand the needs and preferences of their stakeholders. For example, an association that is considering expanding its services may use data and analytics to identify areas of greatest need and to develop targeted strategies for reaching new audiences.

Flexibility and agility

In a rapidly changing world, it is important for associations to be flexible and agile to respond to new challenges and opportunities. This means that strategic plans should be designed to be adaptable and responsive to change, rather than being rigid and inflexible. For example, an association that is facing challenges due to the rapid changes within their industry may need to adapt its plans to continue serving its members effectively.


As sustainability becomes an increasingly critical issue, it is important for associations to consider the long-term impact of their actions and to incorporate sustainable practices into their operations. For example, an association that is focused on protecting the environment may set a goal to reduce its use of single-use plastics and to increase its use of renewable energy sources.

Diversity and inclusion

Including diverse perspectives in the strategic planning process can help associations better understand the needs and preferences of their stakeholders and promote inclusivity within their industries. For example, an association that is seeking to increase the diversity of its membership may set a goal to increase the representation of underrepresented groups within its leadership and committees.

Digital transformation

In the digital age, it is important for associations to have a strong online presence and to be able to communicate effectively with their stakeholders through digital channels. For example, an association that is seeking to increase its membership may set a goal to improve its website and social media presence to reach new audiences and provide resources to its members.

By incorporating these key elements into their strategic planning processes, associations can position themselves to achieve their goals and better serve their stakeholders.

If you need a briefing on associations for your board or a facilitator to ensure the success of your next strategic planning process, please hit reply and let me know. I would be happy to discuss how I can assist in more detail.

Association Trends to Watch in 2023

As the association sector continues to evolve, it is important for CEOs and Boards to stay abreast of the latest trends and understand how they can impact their organisation. Here are a few that are particularly relevant at the moment:

The rise of virtual events.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the way we do business, virtual events have become an increasingly popular alternative to in-person events. This trend is likely to continue into 2023 and beyond, with many associations opting to host their conferences, meetings, and other events online.

Increased focus on sustainability.

Sustainability has long been an important issue, but it is becoming increasingly critical as the impacts of climate change become more evident. In 2023, it is likely that associations will be under pressure to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and to take steps to reduce their environmental impact.

The importance of digital transformation.

In the digital age, it is more important than ever for associations to have a strong online presence and to be able to communicate effectively with members through digital channels. In 2023, it is likely that associations that fail to embrace digital transformation will struggle to keep pace with their competitors.

The rise of artificial intelligence and automation.

Artificial intelligence and automation are changing the way we work and are likely to continue to do so in 2023. While these technologies have the potential to streamline processes and improve efficiency, they also have the potential to disrupt industries and displace jobs.

The need for diversity and inclusion.

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on diversity and inclusion within the association sector, and this trend is likely to continue in 2023. Associations that fail to prioritise diversity and inclusion may struggle to attract and retain members and may face reputational risks.

The role of data and analytics.

Data and analytics are becoming increasingly important in the association sector, as they can help organisations make informed decisions and better understand the needs and preferences of their members. In 2023, it is likely that associations that fail to effectively utilise data and analytics will struggle to keep pace with their competitors.

The need for flexibility and agility.

In a rapidly changing world, it is important for associations to be flexible and agile to respond to new challenges and opportunities. In 2023, it is likely that associations will need to be prepared to adapt quickly to changes in the market, technology, and regulatory environment.

As the association sector continues to evolve, it is important associations to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and be proactive in adapting to these changes to better position themselves for success in 2023 and beyond.

If you need a briefing on associations for your board or a facilitator to ensure the success of your next strategic planning process, please contact Belinda Moore.

JOURNAL: Associations Evolve: 2023 & Beyond Journal Released

We are excited to announce the release of Associations Evolve: 2023 & Beyond Journal, a compilation of articles from over 50 association thought leaders from around the globe.

This journal offers a unique perspective on the future of associations and the role they will play in shaping industries and communities. From innovative ideas for growth and sustainability to strategies for adapting to changing environments, the articles in this journal provide valuable insights and inspiration for association professionals.

As the association landscape continues to evolve, it is important for professionals to stay informed and stay ahead of the curve. The Associations Evolve: 2023 & Beyond Journal is a must-read for anyone looking to drive positive change and impact within their organisation. Get your copy today and join the conversation on the future of associations.

JOURNAL: Associations Evolve: 2022 & Beyond

Forty-six association experts from around the world have collaborated to produce a collection of articles showcasing contemporary thinking on governance, membership, revenue, events, and much more.

This is a great resource for those looking for inspiration and motivation to make 2022 your best year ever. It makes great holiday reading for those who are feeling particularly enthusiastic (tip: this publication pairs well with red wine and cheese).

Download “Associations Evolve: 2022 & Beyond”

This publication is part of our Associations Evolve project which looks for ways to help associations to thrive into the future. 

Thanks to Beau Cummin from Visual Traffic for his fabulous work designing this publication, Northern Territory Business Events for their great support of this project, and all our wonderful contributors.  

We hope you will find this collection of articles from experts in the association space as informative, inspiring, and motivating as we did. 

All the best for a fun and relaxing break over the festive period. I hope you arrive back at work refreshed and ready for an awesome 2022.

Warm regards,

8 Tips for Turning Around A Small Association with Few Cash Reserves and Minimal Staff Resources

With the right approach, great things can be achieved by associations working with few staff and limited financial resources. Following are tips for those wanting to achieve a significant turnaround in their organisational performance.

  1. Prioritise – and stick to it! – You don’t have the resources to be all things to all people. If you try to achieve everything at once you will fail. Plan your turnaround process carefully. Note all the tasks that need to be completed in order of priority. Then start at the top. You will be pressured by people who want their particular interest area prioritised. Don’t feel guilty about saying “no”. Turnarounds are a step-by-step process, and you risk failure by diverting attention and resources away from the tasks that need to be immediately accomplished in order to reach the end goal. 
  2. Don’t just budget – cash flow! – If cash is tight having a budget isn’t good enough. You need to live by your cash flow. This spreadsheet maps out all your anticipated income and expenses. When budgeting be conservative on income and generous on expenses. This gives you a buffer when you hit one of the inevitable speedbumps that will crop up from time to time. Don’t fall into the trap of allowing the inclusion of unrealistic income targets to make the cash flow work.
  3. Ensure you have the right team in place – Having one wrong person on your team can completely derail a turnaround. Ensure you have the right Board, management, and staff in place to effectively plan and execute the turnaround. If there are people on the team who aren’t part of the solution, get rid of them as quickly as possible. For a turnaround to be effective everyone on the team must be working together – and working hard.
  4. Streamline your administration and processing functions – Unnecessary administration diverts valuable time resources and creates the need for costly additional administrative support. If entering into a turnaround phase, first streamline your administrative processes to minimise data entry and automate everyday tasks (such as event registrations and membership processing). Remove barriers to joining and renewing (such as unwieldy application processes). This will provide a solid foundation for future growth. There are a number of low cost, cloud based integrated database and website systems such as that are quick and easy to implement.
  5. Focus on delivering compelling tangible member benefits – Associations that succeed aren’t those with the most benefits. They are the ones that deliver the most value to their members. Identify the most compelling value you can deliver to your existing and prospective members and focus on delivering that. Don’t be distracted by investing resources into minor benefits. Be prepared to let go of the benefits that may have served you well in the past but are no longer compelling to members. If you don’t know what your members currently value, then ask yourself the question … “If our association disappeared overnight what would our members miss?” 
  6. Run awesome events – The symbiotic relationship between successful events and strong membership growth are well recognised.  Make your events the “must attend” for your profession or industry. This means focusing on the details – engaging speakers with great content, compelling programs, innovative formats, fresh venues, great food, and air-conditioning that won’t freeze or boil your delegates.
  7. Seek fewer sponsors at a higher value – Sponsorship seeking takes a lot of effort. Seek a handful of industry exclusive annual partners who are a natural fit for your organisation. Find out how they will measure the success of the arrangement. Structure the partnership to achieve those outcomes. Schedule to catch up with them every couple of months.  Create a situation where you, your members and the partner all win.
  8. Communicate! – Great internal and external communication are critical to an effective turnaround process. This isn’t just sending out the occasional update to staff or members. Communication is a two-way street. Get your key stakeholders involved in the process. Get them passionate about the purpose you are trying to achieve, get them actively involved in implementing the plan, and (very importantly) take the time to celebrate each successful step along the way.  A turnaround is a team effort that is made more successful when all team members are enthusiastically pulling in the same direction.