It’s always awkward when you disagree with a boss. It’s even worse when you see a leader driving your association in the wrong direction. 

A staffer or association member has a lot to lose by speaking up against a leader. Besides making waves in the association and possibly alienating friends. Not to mention, association leaders are often pretty high up is the industries, or at least connected and in the know. Blowing a whistle on an association leader can be tricky. 

On the other hand, you love your association. You don’t want to see it misled. So when do you blow the whistle on leader mismanagement?

  • Make absolutely sure you understand what’s going on. 

Be 100% that things are going the way you think they are, and jot down some specific examples of thing that worry you. 

  • Consider if it’s an issue that you can bring up directly with the leader him or herself. Sometimes a direct approach is best. Depending on the issue, it could be resolved with a good, clear conversation. 
  • Decide who you can trust. Talk to a friend of confidante outside of the association about the issue. Get a third party perspective. 
  • Lay out what you want to say exactly. Take notes. You may feel silly referring to index cards, but having organized thoughts can be a real asset in a tough situation like this. 
  • Figure out who you want to talk to. Consider both who is best to talk to and who you want to talk to. Factor in personal relationships between your confidante and the person you’re raising concerns about. Decide if anonymity is right for you and how involved you want to be in the process moving forward, if there’s an investigation.  
  • Take a deep breath and go for it. 

What you’re doing is not easy. The path of least resistance is definitely just dropping things or hoping someone else notices. If there’s something seriously wrong going on, however, you should be proud of your decision to make a move that’s best for the health of the association. After all, it’s bigger than you!