Keys to a Successful CEO-COO Partnership
There are challenges unique to an association’s top leaders
The relationship between an association’s CEO and COO can be a complicated one. The CEO wants a second-in-command who understands the staff and organizational strategy as well as anybody. But there are also specific roles unique to the COO, and though flexibility matters, it’s also important to be clear about who has the last word.
So, perhaps, it’s not surprising that the word trust comes up often in a conversation with the two top leaders of the Chicago Association of Realtors: CEO Michelle Mills Clement, FASAE, CAE, and Executive Vice President Zack Wahlquist, CAE. Wahlquist joined the association in late 2019, about a year and a half after Mills Clement became CEO. And though the two knew each other previously (they were ASAE DELP Scholars), rapport-building took time, especially since the pandemic began early in their tenure together, wrecking their best-laid plans.
“We had all these beautiful plans for one-on-one meetings that we were going to have in person, breakfasts and happy hours,” said Mills Clement. “I think we went to breakfast once.”
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