Five Ways Your Association Can Be Like a Successful NFL Team!

The ultimate goal for an association is to be a cohesive organization with well thought-out strategies, good management and good revenue streams … traits often found in successful NFL teams. According to The Bleacher Report, successful NFL teams demonstrate five traits that are vital to the franchise’s overall success. Match them to your association and you might just be the next New England Patriots of the association world.

  1. You Need a Playmaker  (Hire a Good Leader).

    Throughout the history of the NFL the most successful teams had a playmaker at quarterback, like Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger.* Your association needs a playmaker … someone who can articulate your vision and execute it. That playmaker is the Executive Director. For the Executive Director to be a playmaker, your board must know itself and its organization. What skills are needed to complement your board’s strengths? In what direction are you headed and what plans do you have to get there? How will you measure success? The mission, strategic direction, benchmarks, and culture established by the board will have an immediate and ongoing impact on the effectiveness of any Executive Director.


  3. Trust Your Scouts. (Hire Good Staff).

Teams that constantly win are teams that trust their scouts and the ability to evaluate talent*. Same can be said of finding good staff members. Hiring good staff is a tough process for an association because compensation can be lower and you need to find a candidate who is truly interested in what you do. So we suggest two key parameters for a new hire: 1) Hire people with a passion for your organization’s area and 2) Find someone who has worked for an association before so they understand that world (while a candidate who has worked in the business world could bring new ways of thinking, they might not understand the specifics of the association world).


  • Be Clear on Job Parameters (Everyone Should Stay in Their Lane).

    The best hierarchies in the NFL have consistently been when there is one person as a general manager and a different individual as a head coach. Both sides work well together in the best franchises to make the team better. The best associations are the ones where the Executive Director executes the overall vision and strategy and relies on his or her staff to do the follow through. Micromanagement at the top of the heap spells trouble.


  • Create a Good Core Culture.


  • Make Your Fanbase Love You (Engage Your Membership).

    “No organization is more beloved by its fans than the Green Bay Packers. The fans literally own the team and have a vested interested in the team. The streets are named after Super Bowl heroes, and every game is sold out for years to come.  The Packer players are a major part of the community, and a lifeblood of the community.”* Successful teams connect with their fanbase and understand that without the fans, the team is non-existent. It’s not just winning that brings fans to the games. It’s the bond with the fans that counts. So goes the association membership. Your members need to love you. And you need to make them love you by engaging with them on a continual basis, in a meaningful way; provide them with the tools and information they need to be connected and vested in the interests of your organization, and build a bond. Provide advocacy tools so that members know action plans and issues coming up. Keep them up to date on publications, and offer concise and clear summaries with easily digestible info at their fingertips. And, most of all, encourage member bonding to build loyalty and engagement.

  • Implement the above five factors and we’ll see you hoisting the Lombardi trophy!


    * The Bleacher Report;

    TripBuilder Media Team