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With roles including Chief Executive Officer of SAE Group, CEO & President of the Performance Review Institute and the Industry Technologies Consortia, Vice President-America on the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies (FISITA) Executive Board, and an appointment to Commissioner, U.S. National Commission for the United National Education and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by the U.S. Secretary of State, David Schutt, Ph.D., is no stranger to leadership. 

It is this experience that Schutt shared to the digitalNow 2021 audience in his Wisdom Exchange session titled “Transformational Leadership.” Speaking with Alliance Safety Council Vice President Kathy Trahan, Schutt shared personal stories, growth opportunities and key leadership lessons for association professionals and their teams.

1. The only way to predict the future is to create it

As we’ve seen over the past two years, unpredictability is almost predictable. The rate of change and innovation soared as organizations rushed to find ways to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. To Schutt, being proactive instead of reactive is the key to surviving and being successful long term. 

“I really push my leadership team and my boards towards the future,” he said. “You have to get out way out in front, live inside of your members' work lives, their professional lives, get inside the industry's head. If it's an industry stakeholder, know what their problems are and then integrate that with what's going on in the rest of the world. That's how you can begin creating that future.”

2. Leadership is working well with others

As a leader, Schutt doesn’t see himself as an inventor or developer. Rather he sees himself as an aligner. 

“I’m the one that aligns everybody to where we need to go,” he shared. “I’m willing to call the challenge when we’re not doing things right. Talking to my board, talking to my leadership team when we don’t have it right. Knowing what the future really does need to be and then aligning the boards, the leadership team, the resources and the finances to go in that direction.”

3. Your membership isn’t your mission

When it comes to 501(c)3 organizations, many times the line between member and mission can become blurred. Some organizations tend to think that their programs are their purpose, and the members their mission. But according to Schutt, that’s wrong.

“I actually say no,” he explains. “Your membership is in service of our mission. A 501(c)3’s purpose is for the public good. If you can get your organization’s alignment around a mission and a purpose, and not confuse it with programs, we’ll be in better shape.”

By making sure that your organization’s leadership is clear and concise on its mission, aligned and collaborating together as a team and actively pursuing next steps for the future, successful growth and innovation are bound to happen. Take a lesson from Schutt, and watch the whole session recording to learn more about how you as a leader can bring your organization forward.

Ashley Neal
Post by Ashley Neal
February 3, 2022
Ashley is a marketing and communications professional with expertise in sales conversion, copywriting, and social media.