Applying For IABC International Leadership……

ByRussell Grossman

Applying For IABC International Leadership……

Hello everyone,

We are now at the point, halfway through the Board year, where IABC is looking for people to apply for next year’s international leadership of the Association.

IABC is led by an International Board of twelve Directors, of which five constitute the ‘Executive Committee’.   Both are headed by a Chair (currently yours truly), supported by a Vice Chair, a Past Chair and a Treasurer.

Further support comes from IABC’s HQ staff, headed by the Executive Director.  The Executive Director reports to the Chair.

Each Director term is a three year commitment, and one third of the Directors move off each year.

Applications are received in December, assessed in February, appointed in February/March and start their term in June (officially, July but let’s not get hung up over that).  Any member whose dues are up to date can apply.

So, we’re now looking for four Director roles on the International Executive Board, (three plus a Treasurer) and the next Vice Chair (with automatic succession to Chair in 2016-17).

Next year’s chair, Michael Ambjorn, was selected last February – but YOU could be his successor in 2016.

So what’s on offer here, for you and IABC?

Well, for the Association we’re looking for people who have time, capability and collaborative behaviour : in equal priority.

‘Capability’ means having (the right) motivation, energy, competence, vision and other general leadership qualities.  And a sense of humour.

On offer for you, if you have the above, the role offers a significant opportunity to be on a Board of an international non-profit organisation with a turnover of some $6,000,000, employing over twenty staff, with a reach into seventy countries and the potential to really make a difference to communication and business practice worldwide.

This is quite a responsibility, and members of the Board all take it as such.

While any IABC member in good standing with their membership dues can apply, the roles are not honorary ones – you have to be prepared to work.  After you’ve completed the application form, the assessment process isn’t light either.   We use ‘competency based’ assessment to assess….well…. your competence, basically.

If you’re applying for Vice Chair we will interview you, in person or over Skype.  Others need simply provide a 2 minute video. (In my day it was a one minute video : we have become more lenient :-))

The ‘we’ here is a College drawn from the heads of each of the eight IABC regions (each selected in their own right by members in regions) and members drawn from the International Executive Board.

This might sound a bit like a Masonic process – secretive and clubby, like, so we elect our own.

Actually, it’s nothing like that at all.   When I joined the International Board in 2011, I only knew one person already on there.

(IABC is talking about changing this whole process so all members get to vote on the selections.   This will not come in for 2015, however.)

So, really, ANYONE can stand for any of these positions if you have the qualities I’ve described.  You don’t have to have been a Chapter or Region President either (I haven’t been).  But you do need to be prepared to put the work in.

Having said all of this, if you’re good (and very many of our members are) you should be able to stand up to the process effectively.

You should also have a good understanding and experience in Communication Practice. This is actually quite important.   You will, after all, represent the profession in a leadership role and IABC Board directors are often called upon to represent the Association both within IABC and externally.

You should be able to talk authoritatively about, for example,  communication trends and contribute (and sometimes present) in your own area of expertise : be that media relations, public affairs, investor relations, employee engagement etc.

The one role which is quite specific is the Treasurer one.  You do need a degree of grip of numbers, balance sheets, basic accounting  practices and financial discipline etc for this.

And you need a degree of mettle for this role, since the Treasurer is often the person to look after the finances when the Board’s passion for progress needs to meet pecuniary parsimony.

OK, so you might be thinking….”well, I have the capability and am a collaborative person, but I don’t have the time”.

Well, guess what, I didn’t think I had the time to do this job either! But in practice you apply a combination of making the time, sharing the tasks out among the Board, and counting the things you achieve each day, not the things you don’t!

So for example, I am focusing especially this year as Chair on increasing the Association’s external communication, brand value and reputation; on making sure we deliver a great World Conference in June – both professionally and in revenue terms; and on examining how IABC can change its business model to be more profitable in a changing world.

My colleague, Mr Vice Chair Ambjorn, is meanwhile leading work with the Council of Regions and taking special interest in our chapter and regional network as well as in our governance processes.

Other members of the Board similarly focus on areas of their expertise, interest and connections.

We all then come together regularly to share those qualities and move the Association forward.

I cannot also stress too highly that having respect for each other’s views and expertise, but still moving forward very much together, is a value we all hold dear.

Do NOT think of applying if you want lots of power and status (it really doesn’t work like that!); if you just think it will look good on your cv; or if you fancy single handedly changing the Association.  (You won’t).

You need to apply by the December 15th.  That’s a month away.  There’s a form on the IABC website here.

If anyone would like a confidential conversation with about this – very happy to. Please contact me at and we’ll arrange a time to talk.

Finally, to end on a recap of my recent travels, I’d like to thank the good IABC people of Slovenia and Ireland, whom I visited recently.   Here are a couple of update videos from my trips to Slovenia and Ireland.

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Russell Grossman subscriber

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