Leaders’ Forum at the Associations World Congress

Association leaders have a lot to deal with. Besides leading the team, sector issues, and the commercial aspects of running an association, there are the strategic aims, governance, and development, to name but a few. The old adage ‘it’s lonely at the top’ can certainly apply to leaders of associations. When the going gets tough, where do the tough go for advice, inspiration and a friendly ear?

The new Association Leaders’ Forum global event series recently announced by the Association of Association Executives (AAE) aims to provide just that. Leaders’ events have been held in the past, but often as an add-on to another event. With this new series, the AAE is providing a place where senior association executives can take time out with their peers to focus on what is important to them at a strategic level, without being overly clouded by all of the day-to-day matters.

AAE Executive Director Damian Hutt explains: “Leaders of associations face a unique set of challenges. Senior association executives already attend our various events internationally, but we wanted to create a space where leaders of membership organisations could hear new ideas for them and engage deeply with their peers, learning from each other. Based on feedback, we have structured the new event series to address topics such as strategic growth, member engagement, creating value and good and bad governance – the topics are selected according to local needs. All sessions are led by a professional facilitator who ensures focus and maximises the value for delegates in practical and applicable take-aways.”

The Chatham House rule will be applied to the Association Leaders’ Forums events, ensuring that participants feel free to comment without their points being attributed. This is an important aspect of the format, enabling association leaders to air concerns they might otherwise hold back on. Open dialogue is very much the focus, with all participants encouraged to speak freely about challenges and concerns where peer discussion and insight from those who have experienced similar issues can really help.

The first Leaders’ Forum in the new series will take place today 2 May in Vienna the day before the annual Associations World Congress (full report on the congress to follow!). Key topics included growing associations and membership development internationally – over 30 association executive heads attended.

The series this year is being held in London, Switzerland, Middle East, Hong Kong and India.

Photo: Damian Hutt


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