Follow along as our new ACC President and CEO, Veta T. Richardson, chronicles her first year at ACC, with this monthly blog series. The voice, views and stories expressed in this series are of the author and are not ACC’s. To read the first installment of this series, click here.
Two Ears and One Mouth So We Can Listen Twice as Much as we Talk
“We’ve all heard the criticism ‘he talks too much.’ When was the last time you heard someone criticized for listening too much?” – Norm Augustine, Former Chairman, Lockheed Martin
I recently celebrated one month on the job at ACC. My game plan this past month was to concentrate most of my time and attention internally on the ACC staff. The top priority has been getting to know the more than 60 employees and hear about the many responsibilities they shoulder.
My meetings with staff have no formal agenda other than wanting to hear about projects they are working on and to experience the organization from a perspective other than my own. I also approach these meetings as a chance to be curious about the range of backgrounds and abilities reflected in the staff.
Early on, I advised everyone on staff not to be surprised when I ask them about the skills or talents they possess and have not yet had the opportunity to contribute in their current role at ACC. The responses are exciting: ACC staff has a wide range of abilities and talents, and great potential yet to be tapped. For example, I learned that several people on staff have foreign language skills, others have video production backgrounds, and some are really good writers. My experience has been that these untapped abilities, once called upon, will allow us to grow and develop in new ways and better serve our members.
During my second month I will focus on my working relationship with the ACC Board of Directors. I plan to speak one-on-one with each of our 30 directors in the next 30 days. In the following 30 days I will focus on additional outreach to ACC chapter and committee leaders.
My onboarding plan is somewhat like building a pyramid: The earlier priorities remain essential as the foundation, and new layers are added monthly as I build understanding and awareness.
This pyramid process will help me contribute valuable input in the development of ACC’s new strategic plan. For an association like ACC, members are our lifeblood and the strategic planning for ACC’s next chapter of leadership, growth and member service is already underway. ACC retained Axiom Consulting Partners to assist us with our next strategic plan. Right now, several members of the Axiom Consulting Partners team are spending their time much as I am — listening and taking in lots of information in order to get smarter about who ACC is, who we serve, and how well we do it. As they become increasingly well grounded, they will likewise look externally to various sectors of the ACC membership for feedback and insight regarding ACC’s value drivers, future growth and service opportunities.
By all accounts, ACC is having a phenomenal year — membership levels, sponsorship sales, advertising revenue and conference registrations are all achieving record-high levels. As a new leader, it has been vitally important for me to listen and learn first, to avoid acting on mistaken beliefs or making decisions that are ill-informed and potentially counter-productive. One month in, I am just starting to feel comfortable with my knowledge of ACC’s staff and internal operations, recognizing there is a lot left to learn. And I am really enjoying my new job, which for me is the ultimate personal measure of success!