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Membership Management

The Pros and Cons of a Leaderless Association

MemberClicks Avatar MemberClicks April 5, 2023
Table of Contents
2 min read

There are many associations out there who choose to go without a President, a CEO, or a head of the organization. The reasons are often unique to the association itself, but often an association doesn’t have the salary for a leadership position and therefore the decisions makers are volunteers who have full time jobs. When that’s the case it’s tough for one person to foot the responsibility his or her self, so the “President” role disperses and is shared among several people.

What is a “leaderless” organization?

A leaderless organization should not be confused as an organization that is without leadership. Instead, a “leaderless organization” doesn’t have one main “leader”. It does not have a CEO, president or single head-honcho.

Sometimes associations are strictly member-run. Sometimes new associations are entirely member-run or certain groups go in that direction when they’ve been burned by an unsuitable leader. There is no one singular way for “leaderless” organizations to look.

Examples of leaderless organization structures

Leaderless organizations could be run by:

  • Boards
  • Committee or committees
  • Member-run organizations
  • Chapter-based organizations

Pros and Cons of leaderless organizations

Many pros and cons will depend on the type of leaderless structure you have. But overall, here are some pros and cons to consider.


  • Group-run organizations have diverse voices and opinions.
  • A board system makes it easy to establish expertise and responsibilities among the board members.
  • Everyone is empowered! Everyone’s voice matters.
  • Equal-power organizations can be appealing to members.
  • Decisions are more transparent.
  • Everyone is held accountable to everyone.


  • Conflicting personalities may disrupt productivity, frustrating members.
  • Bureaucracy is often a concern, leading to delayed actions.
  • It’s easy to get disorganized when there isn’t one unified voice for direction or leadership.
  • There can be too many cooks in the kitchen. When associations are member-run often everyone is in charge or no one is.
  • Not everyone wants that level of responsibility.

Leader VS Leaderless Organizations

All too often associations come apart because everyone gets disengaged. It’s surprisingly common; especially when everyone works in the same industry and a huge change happens in the business. A big advantage to having a dedicated leader is that he or she is always working in the best interest of the association. That will go a long way to assure its survival!

Free Member Retention Guide

Ready to retain members and keep them coming back forever and ever? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about member retention. We cover all the basics, like the first steps to member retention and how to map out your member journey. From there, we dive a bit deeper into retention tips.