Category Archives: Guest post

Are you a Martyr?

Learning to lead so others can shine

Many of us had a wake-up call at Leadership Institute last week in San Diego. Our keynote workshop with Cynthia D’Amour, MBA, hit home as she pegged a style of volunteer leadership that leads to:

  • Long hours.
  • Burn out.
  • Zero ability to recruit and engage with board members and other volunteers.

We all know the type and some of us resemble them — they give 110 percent because they care. They work long, hard hours. So, what’s the problem? It is killing our volunteer pool and in some cases our chapters.

Cynthia encouraged us to:

  • Move beyond saying ‘we’ve always done it that way’ by owning results and allowing others to get involved so they too own the results.
  • Develop people rather than doing all the work ourselves. (Who would want to take our place if we are modeling a job that is all work and zero fun?)
  • Invite people to a fun and meaningful experience – rather than expecting them to do everything our way. (Let go and let others take charge. It might not be how we would do it, but they will be engaged and they will want to do it again.)
  • Celebrate the work of others – rather than moan about all the work we’ve had to do ourselves. (Every time we volunteer to do something ourselves, we just stole an opportunity for someone else to shine.)

So, our work and success will be shared with others. We will become masters at giving others the opportunity to shine. The more others shine, the more fun the group will have and before you know it – your community is growing.

This is leadership, as opposed to managing a chapter, region or even the international board. With this style of leadership, there is more focus on getting others involved to be part of the solution. So basically, if we stop being a martyr, it gives others a chance to be engage. The trick? We have to do it before it’s too late.

Cynthia reminded us that people join a community for one of three reasons:

  1. To learn something new.
  2. To help others – a chance to give back.
  3. To meet new people and grow their network.

Cynthia’s best advice for recruiting volunteers or chapter leaders, is that we must first determine which of the three hot buttons motivates each person.

  • If they are new to the profession or want to keep their skills sharp, share about your chapter’s programs and opportunities to participate in putting those on.
  • If they are searching for a way to give back – maybe they want to present a program.
  • If they simply want to grow their network, introduce them to others in the room and invite them back to your next event.

As Cynthia said – “you can’t go too far on the first date. Wait to ask about board service until you have them hooked. Pull them in, instead of pushing them away.”

Even the invitation to our events should contain the answers to all three hot buttons (learn, help and meet) so we are offering something to everyone.

For those of us in the room at LI, it became clear that if we are a martyr leader, we are keeping others from getting involved and having their opportunity to shine. There is an art to leadership – and that art is about knocking down roadblocks and empowering others to succeed.

Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way!


Cynthia D’Amour, MBA, is author of The Lazy Leader’s Guide to Outrageous Results. For twenty years she has worked with association leaders and staff to help get more members involved using a relationship-based approach.

Thank you to these sponsors for our keynote speaker Cynthia D’Amour. A special shout-out to the women leaders of the IABC Tulsa Chapter that made this possible with donations from their companies.

Transforming IABC

For the last three years, IABC has been under a transformation – revitalizing programs to improve membership retention and achieve financial sustainability. As we transition from the 2014/2017 strategy to the 2017/2020 strategy, we reviewed IABC’s vision, mission, purpose and philosophy statements to give clarity to who IABC is, what IABC does and the value we bring to communication professionals.

We started the review last fall with a global listening tour, holding appreciative inquiry sessions in every region, and then opened the conversation on this blog for input back in January. Armed with your input, vice chair Sharon Hunter and I presented draft statements at Leadership Institute in Dallas.

Knowing that these statements need to work at the chapter, regional and international levels, the input we got in Dallas from IABC leaders crystalized our path forward. We knew which statements were right, and which ones needed work. We also had a better understanding of what each statement should accomplish and who the intended audience was for each one.

A few times I heard members say, “I need to explain to my CEO the business value of IABC.” Your feedback, gave us our new value proposition: IABC is the only global association connecting me to the people and insights I need to drive business results.

Here are all the statements that will be added to the IABC bylaws and voted on at the Annual General Meeting on Saturday, 10, 2017 in Washington D.C.

  • Vision: Professional communicators at the heart of every organization.
  • Purpose: To advance the profession, create connection and develop strategic communicators.
  • Philosophy: IABC pledges to:
    • Represent the global profession.
    • Foster a diverse community.
    • Focus on insights and results.
    • Honor our Code of Ethics.
      We will achieve this by being open, contemporary and professional.

In addition, this statement will be updated in our Brand Guidebook. It is our elevator speech and will be used in marketing and communications materials.

  • Value Proposition: IABC is the only global association connecting me with the people and insights I need to drive business results.

All of these statements use the work of the Brand Task Force, led by Priya Bates, ABC, MC, CMP, IABC Fellow, as a foundation. That, coupled with your guidance, gives us four strong statements that can serve to unite us and guide our work. They reaffirm our strategic intent as an association to stay relevant into the future, underpinning the 2017-2020 new strategy framework that is currently in development. Stay tuned for more updates as we countdown to kick-off at World Conference in Washington, DC this June.

Thank you to IABC members around the globe who participated in this process and helped get us to a better, stronger place.

A brief sampling of feedback from Twitter:

How Membership Dues Are Invested

At some point we’ve all wondered how our membership dues are spent. In this post IABC Treasurer, Ginger Homan ABC, sets it all out.

Chapters & Regions

Ginger Homan

First of all, member dues are compiled from Chapter, Region and International dues. Chapters and Regions determine their fees — some Chapters charge $70, however in many cases it is more like $40. Some Chapters choose to not charge any dues at all. Regions dues range from $25-$90.

These dues are invested by your local and regional leaders in professional development, networking events etc. Speak to your local and regional Treasurer if you want to know more – and consider stepping up – it is a role that can really help you advance.

2016 IABC Who Does What
Who Does What


Dues to International is just one of several revenue streams to support work at the international level — 52 percent of the annual revenue; the largest single item. Next in line as sources of revenue are World Conference, Gold Quill and the Job Centre.

Some programs generate revenues, but not a cash return. These include professional development and certification. These two flagships from the 2011-14 strategy are still in the phase where they require significant investment to help them take off. They are expected to start generating a surplus in the coming years, which can then be reinvested.

You can play a part here: step up and serve one of the 22 international committees that advance this work.

Investing in our leaders and our members

Leadership Institute, chapter relations etc. are investments in our leaders. Whilst a net cost, they have a significant return in the form of impact in line with our Theory of Change.

Communication World is a membership benefit and is not designed to generate a surplus.


2016 theory of change circles
IABC’s Theory of Change


Investing to advance IABC’s strategy – and the profession

Building on the above, our dues support all IABC programs: those designed to generate a surplus for reinvestment – and those that don’t (but are benefits of membership).

2014 Annual Report Income Expenditure Breakdown donuts
Revenue / Expense breakdown at the International level – look for the next update in the annual report released this June.

Below is a list of the areas on the chart and examples of some of the items that category includes.

  • Professional Development
    • Speakers for webinars
    • Software to support the training program
  • World Conference
    • Facilities, food, beverage, Audio/Visual support
    • Keynote speakers
    • Meeting production
  • Certification
    • Development of the certification program
    • Development and management of the exam
    • Costs of administering the exam
  • Gold Quill
    • Evaluation
    • Banquet
    • Awards
    • Software infrastructure
  • Membership / Chapter Relations
    • Scholarships to Leadership Institute and World Conference
    • Chapter Management Awards
    • Bank fees for processing payments
  • Finance / administration
    • Outside professional services including attorney, auditor, finance and human resources
    • Back office computer software and license fees
    • Depreciation
  • Governance
    • Executive Director travel
    • Board travel subsidy
    • Insurance
  • Information Technology
    • Website and any other software not covered above + hardware
    • Consulting for the website and other software applications

You’ll note that the “Finance/administration” portion is 20 percent of the total investment. The norm for professional associations is 25-30 percent.  The International Executive Board is committed to keeping that number as low as possible.

Balanced Budget

The IABC staff worked hard with the Finance Committee to create a balanced budget moving in to 2016. It is directly aligned to the board’s 2014-17 strategy:

“Financial recovery and sustainability is primary, as is the loyalty and development of our members and leaders and consolidating gains from the 2011-14 strategy. Increased reputation in the profession; better brand positioning; and greater interaction with business as a revenue generator are then the big opportunity to be grasped”.

This budget includes investing in:

  • The development of certification exam for the Strategic Advisor level
  • A Learning Management System, allowing the Academy to offer self-paced classes on
  • The Global membership survey to determine what members value most
  • An Association Management System, software needed to improve our membership records and an individual’s experience with IABC

If you have questions about IABC finances, please reach out to the IABC Treasurer, Ginger Homan, at ginger [at]

You can also find updates in the latest quarterly report. Our annual report that will be issued at the Annual General Meeting at World Conference. We hope to see you there.

Members of Finance Committee

  • Ginger Homan, ABC, IABC Treasurer
  • Michael Ambjorn, IABC Chair
  • Dianne Chase, IABC Vice Chair
  • Victoria Dew
  • Ron Fuchs, APR
  • Alain Legault, MA
  • Carlos Fulcher, MBA, CAE


You can play a part here: step up and serve one of the 22 international committees that advance the work of the association, and the profession. Or consider running for Treasurer of your local chapter or region. It is a role that can really help you advance.