Lifelong Learning and the Association Executive

What is a Professional Statement?

This Professional Practice Statement, developed by the Association Forum, is provided as a management tool for associations and individual association professionals, developed by experts in the industry, and recommended as a means to achieve excellence in managing associations and other not-for-profit organizations.



The need for association executives and other association management professionals to maintain and enhance their personal and professional competency has never been greater. Changes in association management continue to occur at a rapid pace, and expertise and skills are needed to respond appropriately to the resultant challenges. Deliberate, ongoing career and personal development can help assure that association management professionals have the management and leadership skills needed to serve their organizations effectively and to advance their careers.


Policy Position

The Association Forum believes that association management professionals should actively pursue professional development throughout their careers.


Professional Practices for Association Management Professionals

  • Engage in periodic self-assessments and 360-degree assessments that involve assessing personal and professional strengths and weaknesses within the context of current responsibilities and  your aspirations.
  • Interact with colleagues that you admire while mentoring and teaching others. You can learn from both. Mentoring and teaching keeps your knowledge fresh.
  • Read! You can learn from everything you read. Association management resources and other media that provide insight into the trends, issues and challenges affecting the association management field, as well as similar resources offering broad-based business management information, can help you grow and develop as a professional.
  • Participate in formal and informal professional education programs that provide instruction in association issues and management, general management, and other professional and personal development topics.
  • Engage in the social media communities of your choice to be exposed to novel ideas and practices and keep your sources fresh.
  • Actively network in settings that include both one-on-one and small group interaction with peers.
  • Maintain membership and involvement in professional societies and trade associations.
  • Pursue relevant professional certifications as a benchmark for professional development.
  • Stay physically fit and healthy. Wellness provides the foundation and energy for lifelong learning.


Professional Practices for the Governing Body

  • The association should encourage and support continuing education endeavors by funding, to a reasonable extent, the association management professional's education program and courses, periodical subscriptions, and membership in relevant professional societies and trade associations.
  • The association should afford the association management professional time to participate in continuing education activities which benefits both the association and its professionals.



The Association Forum expressly disclaims any warranties or guarantees, expressed or implied, and shall not be liable for damages of any kind, in connection with the material, information, or procedures set forth in these Statements or for reliance on the contents of these Statements. In issuing these Statements, the Association Forum is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If such services are required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.


Reference List

Successful Association Leadership: Dimensions of 21st Century Competency for the CEO, ASAE Foundation, 1993.

“Seven Means for Lifelong Learning”, CEO Corner, FORUM magazine, October 2011, V95, N8, page 40.

"15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning, Stepcase Lifehack", Scott H. Young, July 31, 2011,

Type: Professional Practice Statement