Emerging Leaders: 5 Tools for Leadership Development and AMC Career Advancement

Emerging leaders at the January 2021 AMCI Engagement Lounge reported that receiving new assignments is most important to their AMC career advancement, as they seek broader understanding of their firm’s client operations and key players. This theme was on full display during the interactive session, which avoided the traditional webinar format in favor of direct conversations between panelists, AMCI members, and emerging AMC leaders.

Hosted by the AMCI Emerging Leaders Task Force, featured panelists were: Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE, Owner/CEO, Essentient Association Management & Events; Erin Fuller, FASAE, CAE, MPA, President, Association Solutions, MCI USA; Lane Velayo, CAE, CEO, Synergos Association Management; and Megan Woodburn, CAE, Owner & Founder, Strategic Account Management.

The program was centered around a series of case studies that challenged participants in small groups to use an AMC lens while examining different issues such as scope changes and contract reduction requests, third-party contractor management, and wavering staff allegiances. The panelists emphasized that to grow as a leader within the AMC model, staff must function as consultants and educators, bringing the broader association landscape to the boardroom and equipping board directors with the knowledge to make good decisions.

During the process, the AMC emerging leaders were encouraged to transcend their professional titles by embracing the challenges of their executive teams to actively support resolution development. As Lane Valeyo posed to the group, “Are you picking your head up?”

Overall, five key tools surfaced from the discussions that emerging leaders should take to heart to further themselves in their career.

  1. Stop. Breathe. Discover 
    Instead of panicking or sending the problem up the team ladder, emerging leaders need to research and collect their data. Is the problem scope creep? Graph the time spent. Are third party contractors complicating matters? Pull financial data and time logs to project the true cost of paying for and managing their services. Emerging leaders who know the facts are better equipped to educate boards and establish their reputation as a reliable source of information.

  2.  Vertical Advantage 
    The AMC model prides itself on vertical teams. Emerging leaders are not just a member of a client team, but also have a greater in-house network of other association professionals within the same specialty. Meet regularly with verticals to see how colleagues have addressed similar challenges and hot topics, and know when to bring issues to a member of the executive team. Some concerns are larger than they appear and knowing who to talk to, and when, can demonstrate good judgment.

  3. Provide Choice
    With any problem, research multiple solutions and present these options along with the facts. It is not uncommon for boards facing a budget shortfall to place the blame on management expenses or see fee reduction as a quick and easy fix. Get in front of these conversations by presenting other options. This may be the time to get rid of those high-cost, low-yield legacy projects such as publications or events that are produced for tradition rather than truly benefiting the association. 

  4. “Yes, and…”
     Erin Fuller advised emerging leaders to embrace these challenges from association clients, rather than backing away or passing the project to someone else. Career advancement comes from the AMC, not the client. As a team member who works towards client solutions, emerging leaders can create a reputation as someone with keen judgment, curiosity, adaptability, and critical thinking. These qualities are in-demand with AMC executive teams.

  5. All About Trust
    Everything comes down to relationships as we navigate difficult situations and challenges with our clients. Working to foster that trust with a client not only showcases finesse as an emerging leader but can also be the backbone to many of these other strategies discussed here. At the end of the day, it is about finding a way forward with the client that means success for both the association and the AMC.

The AMCI Emerging Leaders Taskforce is creating content and education opportunities for those looking to grow and advance within their AMC career. Connect your organization’s emerging leaders with Jennie Stitzinger, AMCI's Director of Marketing and Communications, today.

Michael Battaglia, MBA, Executive Director, AMPED Association Management
Suzanne Fedie, MA, Executive Director, Association Acumen
Albert Lin, Account Coordinator, Managing Matters, Inc.
Heidi Loney, Digital Media Specialist, Essentient Association Management and Events
Richie O'Neill, Account Executive, Association Management Strategies
Natalie Wallace, CAE, Account Manager, Redstone Agency

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