2 Tips for Association Execs from an Association Executive Director

Bob Ramsey, CAE, Executive Director for the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians, guest blogs today, providing insight into the association world and tips for effective association leadership.

We're thrilled to share advice from Bob Ramsey, CAE, who is the current executive director for the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians. He provides insight into his experience in the association world and gives us two important tips for effective association leadership. 

Question: what was a defining moment in your career in the association space?

Bob: My very first association Executive Director position forty-two years ago came as the result of an event that taught me the importance of building relationships with my members. In 1973, I was the National Field Representative for the Associated Builders & Contractors traveling the country organizing and building new chapters for this rapidly growing construction association. Our Tampa Florida chapter’s second in command, Clark, was regularly traveling to Orlando. When it was time to hire an Executive Director, the Orlando builders naturally offered the job to Clark. They knew and liked Clark because he was constantly among the builders helping them get their chapter started.

When the Tampa chapter learned of Orlando’s offer to hire Clark, they approached Clark and inquired about what they could do to keep him in Tampa. Clark boldly said “I want Ron’s job!”... Ron was the Executive Director of the Tampa Chapter! You see, Ron did what most CEOs do, he stayed behind his desk most of the time and didn’t make the effort to visit members.

In the end, Clark got Ron’s job and I was offered the Orlando job.


Question: what are the top 2 tips you have for association executives?

Tip #1 – Get out from behind your desk and go visit members. Visiting members at their place of work helps you understand what keeps members up at night and makes you a better association executive at solving their real problems. It’s easier and more comfortable to stay in the office behind your desk. Remember how that worked for Ron.


Tip #2 – Today, order a copy of “StrengthsFinder 2.0” and take the self-assessment online. It will identify your top five strengths and give you ten things you can do to build on each of your strengths. Focusing on your strengths forces you to do more of what you like and are good at doing rather than struggling with improving your weaknesses.

Thank you, Bob! 

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