News & Insights

Read and share Parliament Hill insights and news on the tips, trends, and key developments we’ve identified for benefit management and member satisfaction.

Andrew Holden on ... Leadership

This is the first of a new series of interviews where we catch up with our Managing Director, Andrew Holden. In this interview, we discussed the topic of leadership.

1. What are the three biggest challenges facing leaders in the membership sector?

These are things that are not necessarily unique to the membership sector. The cost of living crisis including the inflationary pressures. That could impact on members where they feel they need to cut back on what they might see as non-essential expenditure. It could also impact on staff at the associations themselves.

The ongoing prevalence of working from home. It many respects it's a good legacy from the pandemic. But obviously it still continues to impact relationships, cohesion, opportunities for synergies and development of ideas.

The third, which I think is most relevant to professional membership bodies, is where people are looking for solutions online. This could be finding information, or forums for discussion and debate, which means that they are bypassing the professional bodies in favour of what can seem like a quicker and, quite often, free resource.

2. How do you see Parliament Hill supporting leaders with these challenges?

We provide ways to add value to membership. Enabling membership bodies to make a difference at the right time, given the cost of living crisis. Helping members make their money go further, maybe even making the cost of their membership a zero net cost exercise, as they can recoup that money through savings made through the benefits scheme. It can also apply to staff as well, as they also have access to the offers on their association's benefit scheme.

We're also supporting engagement, as engagement connects to loyalty. And we are generally supporting the sector. In our mission statement our remit is "Recruitment, engagement and retention is at the heart of what we do, positively influencing and strengthening membership organisations across the UK and beyond for the benefit of members, society and the economy as a whole". We see membership organisations as fulfilling a very important role in society, and we help them in that undertaking.

3. If you could go back in time to when you were first starting out at PH, what advice would you give yourself?

To try, (and I know this might be hard when you're first starting out as a leader), to engineer a model or a way of working from the start that allows you a bit of space to pause and think. That could be early adoption of outsourcing and/or delegation. And connected to this, developing your team and rewarding them in the process, which means you're able to delegate effectively. Additionally, having the trust to let your team get on with things; they'll make mistakes and learn from them. Allowing yourself to set limitations and boundaries on your work and your working day. In the absence of those things, you will find yourself working crazy hours.

4. What has been the biggest learning curve in your role as a leader?

I think that the need to have difficult conversations sooner than one otherwise might is a powerful lesson that I've had to learn the hard way. There's a book I read called The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, who talks about management debt. Basically when you make short term quick decisions that have long term and expensive consequences. An example of that is just not having a difficult conversation sooner, as ultimately you'll regret it, and it'll cause more harm if you don't bite the bullet sooner.

5. Which leaders have inspired you?

Three leaders come to mind and they include:

  1. Mike Perry, the recently retired former CEO of a mutual membership body. That was just for his root and branch impact on the organisation where he worked, at literally every facet of the organisation. He analysed and made dramatic improvements, in a very measured and impressive way.
  2. Christine Adames, who was a leader in the membership sector and became a coach who has helped myself and other members of the PH team. She's helped lead us in many respects, in terms of our professional development.
  3. Some of the leaders within the Parliament Hill team, who have had to manage so much during a period of unprecedented change and challenge, who I think have done a brilliant job of leading and supporting their teams.

If you'd like to get in touch with Andrew to discuss how to set up a member benefits scheme for your organisation, please get in touch here .

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