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What's in a name?

What’s in a name?


Quite a lot, actually. When we approach parenthood, we agonise long and hard about the names we choose to give our children. As we should. First impressions are important and names form a big part of that impression. I wonder if this is the point where I apologise to my children?


I will be quite candid here. Much though I love the Institute of Association Management, the amazing people I have met and the support I have had at different stages of my career, I have never been comfortable with the name. I am the world’s worst manager. Ask any of my staff. I exaggerate for effect, obviously. I manage to manage as a manager, when I have to. I hope that, when I was appointed as the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, it was to lead it more than it was to manage it.


That is why I am so excited about the Institute transforming itself into the Institute of Association Leadership. Some would shrug their shoulders and call it a rebranding exercise or a simple relaunch. For me it is far, far more than that. Because first impressions are important and names form a big part of that impression.


First and foremost, this Institute - the IAL - stands apart as the professional body for all those who find themselves in a senior leadership role in a membership association. Serving the needs of the most senior leaders - chief executives, managing directors, executive directors and the like - is our primary role. But we do not exist only for those at the very top. Leadership exists at many levels in associations and part of our special purpose must be to encourage everyone to aspire to lead.


Then there is the notion of thought leadership. Thought leadership. In the association sector. Yes, you are correct, there isn’t anywhere near enough. There is lots and lots and lots of management. At times we manage ourselves to death. Inwardly focussed on managing our respective associations when there is so much we can learn from each other. We need to inspire each other. We need to motivate each other. We need to support each other. We need to curate and share a vision for the future of associations, together.


So, what’s in a name? A lot. From it we draw our special purpose, our reason for existing as an association. Redefining this organisation as the Institute of Association Leadership is, I think, a pivotal moment in the evolution of the association sector. I am ridiculously excited, enthused and energised to be a part of this transformation. I hope you are too.


Lee Davies, Chair, Institute of Association Leadership

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