3 Lessons: Parting Words

Leadership Associations Now November/December 2014

After 20 years as CEO of the Vinyl Siding Institute, Jery Y. Huntley has learned a few things about leadership. Her key lessons: You can't lead effectively without good decision-making processes, open communication, and a commitment to serving others.

Jery Y. Huntley
President and CEO
Vinyl Siding Institute
Washington, DC

Process trumps pandemonium.

Things get crazy. That's the way associations are. But when challenges arise and everyone is shouting their solution, an appropriate decision-making process can go a long way toward clarifying a situation, getting agreement on an outcome, and stimulating the best thinking from members and staff on how to get there.

Never stop improving communication skills.

Clear, respectful, two-way communication is how deep, fruitful relationships are built. I'm mindful that everyone learns in different ways—listening, reading, graphics, videos, thinking alone, through group interaction, quickly, or after contemplation—so I try to tailor communications as much as possible. I also work at listening—not just to the words, but to the tone, the pauses, the body language, and the point of view. It shows respect and leads to better ideas.

Enriching others' lives enriches you.

If your association doesn't appear to have any altruistic goals, partner with a cause your members can work for. The benefits are exponential. Not only will you be helping others, you'll be amazed how the industry coalesces and how this can help you work together on tough issues. Some of my closest friends and fondest memories came from building houses for Habitat for Humanity.