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What skills should young association leaders master now to remain relevant in the future?

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Shelly Alcorn, CAE
Shelly Alcorn, CAE  replied:

Thanks for the question. I think it is an important one.

In my mind, the skills young association leaders need are less about the "mechanics" of how associations run (which are covered with studying for the Certified Association Executive (CAE) program with American Society of Association Executives) and more about their own personal abilities to change and adapt. The Institute for the Future put out a wonderful piece on Future Work Skills 2020 that I use for training purposes.

Although I think all of the skills in that piece are important - association leaders need to concentrate on the following: Sense making (the ability to synthesize disparate pieces of information), Novel and Adaptive thinking, Transdisciplinarity (the ability to understand major concepts across multiple disciplines) and Cross Cultural Competencies (for a rapidly globalizing world.) These modes of thinking are more "horizontal" in nature which serves association leaders very well as we are continually asked to balance multiple priorites and attempt to project where the industries and professions we serve are going.

Lastly, I would say we need to not neglect the more aspirational sides of our minds. For too long, we have been trained to act more like machines than humans, particularly in the workplace. Well guess what? The machines are here. If we are going to maintain an advantage, we need to learn how to be more human. To truly be transformational, we have to infuse our work with technical excellence as well as imagination, kindness and a passion to improve the conditions in which we live.