View or download the President/Chief Staff Executive Checklist
The ideal relationship between the chief staff executive (“AE”) and the president is one of shared responsibilities and a working partnership, recognizing that each is primarily in charge of different aspects of the association. For the AE, this responsibility generally involves managing the day-to-day operations (i.e., implementing the association’s administrative functions, adhering to the budget, managing all matters related to human resources, including succession planning etc.). Conversely, the president may oversee how the association is governed (i.e., develops the association’s strategic plan, policies, committee structures and goals, etc.). Recognizing that both the AE and president’s roles often depend on the size of the association, collaboration, communication and dialogue are imperative.
One way to enhance dialogue between the president and AE is to discuss issues common to both. A job functions summary or task list can help accomplish this.
By working together on this summary, association presidents and AEs can gain a new perspective on their relationship. A structured format in which AEs and presidents share ideas and expectations about their jobs and lines of responsibility can help their relationship begin and remain strong, ultimately benefiting the members.
There are no "right" or "wrong" answers in this exercise. Answers may even change annually with each president's style, goals, interests and abilities. The important thing is for the president and AE to reach an agreement on who does what, thus encouraging a level of consistency in the relationship. Please note that this list is not comprehensive, as you are encouraged to add additional activities that best suit the association.
Remember, the answers in a job functions exercise will vary by association size. In small associations, it is likely that most of the responsibilities and functions will fall on the shoulders of its elected leadership, since the AE may be the only staff or chiefly an office administrator. In larger associations, more of the responsibilities for publications, government relations, educational opportunities, member outreach and media representation may be delegated to the AE and his or her staff.
It can be helpful for the president and AE to each keep a copy of this task list and refer to it throughout their leadership year together.