Leadership TSAE Retreat Kicks Off Year-Long Program

Leadership TSAE is a nine-month program designed to help association professionals develop essential skills while creating a community within TSAE. We wanted to share some of this class’ experience so you could learn how your fellow members are learning from and engaging with TSAE, as well as gain ideas to incorporate into your own leadership programs. To learn more, visit www.tsae.org.

On February 21 and 22, the 2017 class of Leadership TSAE kicked off its year-long journey with a two-day retreat. In addition to leadership development, the retreat aimed to connect the participants with one another and take them out of their comfort zone.



The session started with a kick-off luncheon that celebrate the participants’ acceptance in the program with their supervisor and mentor. TSAE Board chair JJ Colburn, CAE, a Leadership Academy alum from the inaugural program in 2009, welcomed attendees. Jessica Smith, a past participant, and Lucinda Hart, CAE, a past mentor, shared their stories and tips for a successful year.

Introductions and Improv

Participants got to know one another by sharing a little about themselves. The group found a lot of similar interests, from participating in 4-H and soccer to traveling. The group is one of the most diverse classes we have had in the program. From their background to their positions, there is a good mixture of association professionals in various areas: education/events/tradeshow, membership, technology, executive leadership and marketing/communications.

As part of the afternoon, the class participated in improv games, which helped them get more comfortable with one another and identify some key elements in leadership: Failure is a learning experience – you should acknowledge that failure usually means you took a risk and things didn’t work, but the insight is in understanding how or why it didn’t work and gracefully moving on. It also emphasizes “Yes, and…” culture, which promotes collaboration and innovation.

Iron Chef Competition

Before dinner, the group participated in a cooking contest by creating their own chili recipe. In groups of three-to-four, four teams worked to create, plate and present a dish to the judges. The activity reinforced the foundation of the program, which is about problem solving together by tapping into each of your peer group’s strengths.


Leadership and Management Skills

The second day of the retreat was heavy on content and included sessions on:

  • Essential Leadership Qualities
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Strengths-Based Leadership
  • Leadership Style and Communication
  • Human Behavior and Motivation
  • Individual and Team Accountability
  • Performance Coaching

Many of the participants commented about the usefulness and applicability of the content back at their organization.

The day allowed participants to learn about various communications styles, identify their own style, and discover what approaches would be successful when dealing with others who have a different style.

The class also explored the importance of emotional intelligence and what that brings to the table as a leader, they reviewed methods for having crucial conversations about performance and how to manage up and down.

Following the retreat, the class gathered for a happy hour in March and a session on presentation skills and budgeting/finance in April.

Leadership TSAE is sponsored by AT&T Hotel and Conference Center.

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