Friday, May 29, 2009

When you really need it, it’s too late

I had the pleasure of participating the past few days in the Georgia Society of Association Executives’ Annual Meeting in beautiful Asheville, NC. One of the most thought provoking part of the conference was a session led by Cynthia Mills, CAE.

Working from a series of scenarios drawn from her professional experiences, I joined other participants in discussing the ethical, legal, and leadership issues encompassed in the situations. It was an engaging learning opportunity. One takeaway was that it is not uncommon to find yourself or your organization scrambling to react to a sticky ethical issue for which there is a lack of previous preparation or training. Cynthia wrapped up the session by noting that association professionals can serve as the core of an ethical renaissance, influencing not only our own organizations, but also the industries and professions that we serve.

A good place to start would be to ensure that your organization has clearly stated its ethical values, expectations and practices. These should be centrally integrated into your organization’s policies, procedures, and culture, and be front and center in the way you orient staff and volunteers. Fortunately, advice abounds to help you, including some quick tips from SCORE,, and the Ethics Resource Center.

I encourage you to consider how you can create, strengthen or revitalize your organization’s approach to ensuring the ethical behavior you want to see – before the behavior you don’t want occurs!

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