• Competencies for Association Executives© is intended to provide a guide to performance in senior leadership positions within the association and not-for-profit (NFP) sector. This document is the foundation of the Certified Association Executive® (CAE®) program and seeks to outline all the major activities that should be completed in a high performing organization. As such, it is a useful tool for all association and NFP professionals, whether or not they are pursuing a CAE® designation. Created by peers and subject matter experts, the competencies are meant to outline the critical areas of activity within an association or NFP organization.

    This document is not prescriptive, and it does not provide instruction on exactly how to complete tasks in each area of focus but presents options for consideration. There is never just one solution to the challenges faced by an association or NFP and the landscape is always shifting. Leaders of associations must weigh various factors including their budget, their internal capacity, and their strategic objectives before selecting their priorities and the most appropriate solution given their unique situation. In some organizations, a team member or entire department may be dedicated to one of the competencies listed in this document while in others, the CEO is the only staff resource. The best approach for one organization may not translate to another.

    The Competencies for Association Executives cover 5 main competency areas.

    • Optimize governance
    • Establish direction
    • Lead people
    • Manage operations
    • Deliver value

    Competencies for Association Executives is helpful tool for:

    • Priority setting: Chief Staff Officers (CSO) can work with their boards and their staff to identify the most important tasks to tackle in any given fiscal year.
    • Assessment: Boards can use the document as an assessment tool to determine key strengths and areas of development for the Chief Staff Officer.
    • Development: Leaders in the sector can use the document as a guideline for personal professional development.
    • Planning: Boards and CSOs can plan for succession in the organization by identifying upcoming priorities and what resources will be needed to succeed.
    • Capacity building: Chief Staff Officers can use the document to assist them in building a team that complements their own strengths and weaknesses.

    Download the full list of competencies

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