Comments: Readers on Onboarding CEOs and Mental Models

Readers share their views on recent Associations Now articles.

Our April cover story on how to help a new CEO settle into a new job received feedback from readers eager to share their stories about how awkward those transitions can be. Readers also spoke out on our feature on the importance of adjusting your mental models. Here's what they had to say.


This is excellent advice ["Welcome Aboard"]. I've seen too many boards think their job is done once the employment contract is signed. And too many new CEOs try to juggle multiple challenges without any guidance from the board, staff, or membership as everyone sits back and waits for them to take charge and solve all the association's problems—without knowing what they are or what caused them to be problems in the first place. The 18-month reassessment is also an excellent suggestion.

—Eileen Morgan Johnson, Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLP, Falls Church, Virginia

Into the Pit

How vividly I recall one association where I felt like I was "thrown into the pit," with no board members present on my first day on the job. The staff were not informed of my arrival nor who I was—just a cursory email by the board chair saying that they hired a new executive director.

I will keep this article on file and share it with any association board or prospective new CEO when I know a search is in progress.

—Michael Nizankiewicz, CAE, Association Transition Management, Carson City, Nevada

Meaningful Models

Thank you for the excellent article on mental models in the April issue of Associations Now ["How You See the World"]. After reading this I wished it was a longer article, so I especially appreciate listing all the additional resources.

I was especially interested in several of the concepts you mention. Everyone is working with an incomplete version of their mental model [and] at the same time the "worlds in our heads" are not all the same. This leads colleagues to operate with different understandings of key issues.

Also, the speed of change is increasing, leading to wider gaps between colleagues' mental models and wider gaps between mental models and the world around us.

And finally, the suggestion that we must be willing to put our personal models aside in order to gain fully from inquiry and advocacy. Suspend assumptions and especially listen to others for a fuller understanding.

Thanks again for your excellent contribution.

—Michael J. Darcy, CAE, New Jersey State League of , Municipalities, Trenton, New Jersey

The Right Thing

This article really made me think ["Six Messages That Show How Little You Care About Members"]. It's so hard to put yourself in your members' shoes when you're working hard and trying to do the right thing without being swamped by member requests that you just can't handle—but this is an important reminder that while we all have good reasons for doing what we do the way we do them, sometimes the real message is very, very different.

—Maddie Grant, CAE, SocialFish LLC, Washington, DC

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