3 Lessons: Well Traveled

Leadership Associations Now May/June 2015

A childhood on the move taught Gene S. Terry, CAE, executive director at the American Society of Hand Therapists, about the importance of flexibility and discipline.

Gene S. Terry, CAE
Executive Director
American Society of Hand Therapists
Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Execute strategy.

Life in a military family also taught me respect for the leadership qualities of people who serve this country. Execution is a critical job of any leader, and that requires a discipline for aligning strategy with resources. I have learned to leverage the backgrounds, skill sets, and experiences of team members to focus on strategic objectives.

Avoid labels.

The labels you place on people may define your relationship with them and limit their potential. I am cautious of board members and staff who say, "That committee is full of seat-warmers." And I don't accept it when people say they can't play a leadership role because "I am just a rank-and-file member." Organizations exist because of membership. It's crucial for association leaders to establish a culture that identifies, taps, and cultivates member potential.

Embrace change.

Growing up as an Air Force brat, I experienced constant changes in my homes, schools, and friends. So change doesn't frighten me. As an association leader, I enable volunteer and staff leaders to envision the impact of emerging issues and trends on our organization, members, and the industry we serve. If we know the challenges our stakeholders face now, we've successfully positioned ourselves to remain relevant tomorrow.