Primer for SPTA Officers

By Lisa Grossman, JD, PhD, ABPP, & David White, MPA, CAE

The purpose of this primer is to identify five basic key responsibilities and five of the most significant skill sets necessary to make effective leaders for each officer position in state, provincial and territorial associations. Division 31 sent out a survey to executive directors of SPTAs asking that they be filled out by current association officers and returned to Division 31. What follows are the results of this survey. Division 31 would like to thank all those SPTA leaders who took the time to fill out the survey. Division 31 would also like to express its appreciation to Dr. Jeff Barnett and Dr. Margy Heldring for their helpful suggestions in making this primer possible.

Of the surveys returned, almost half of the responses stated that there were no specific job descriptions for any particular officer position. And, if a job description existed, several people noted that the description was either vague or too general to be helpful.

Based on these survey results, Division 31 recommends the following approaches that would benefit psychological association leadership. Each SPTA may wish to:

  1. Develop a detailed position description for the positions noted;

  2. Use the survey results for guidance and add their own components that are relevant to the needs and demands of the position in their particular SPTA;

  3. Create timelines for each position that specifies tasks that require periodic completion, and deadlines for each task completion;

  4. Create a guidebook for each position that can be added to by each person serving in that position when they are leaving, so that emerging lessons can lead to the delineation of tips that the next person can deploy;

  5. Create brief training manuals and procedures for all officers and committee chairs;

  6. Ensure that all leadership members know parliamentary procedure, each SPTA can use the Abridged Guidelines for Parliamentary Procedure (PDF, 101KB) written by Dr. Jeff Barnett.

  7. Charge each leader to prepare the pipeline by thinking of who will be replacing them and serving in their roles in years to come. Officers need to always be actively working on bringing in, mentoring and nurturing new leaders. Officers need to keep this in mind when making committee and task force appointments;

  8. Prompt each leader to serve as an ambassador of their association and always be working to bring in new members.

Survey Results

Treasurer

Key Responsibilities

  1. Review bank statements and expenditures

  2. Develop budget

  3. Report to board and membership

  4. Keep accurate records

  5. Develop polices to ensure financial health of the organization and work with the board to develop a budget that addresses strategic priorities

Helpful Knowledge/Skills

  1. Helpful to know how to use a spreadsheet on a computer

  2. Experience with budgets and accounting

  3. Knowledge of the operations of your psychological association

  4. Overall fiscal knowledge of business practices

  5. Organizational skills

Secretary

Key Responsibilities

  1. Take minutes of all meetings including Executive Committee, board meetings, annual membership meetings

  2. Prepare minutes by condensing information into a concise, readable format

  3. Distribute minutes in a timely fashion

  4. Attend all meetings

  5. Focus and listen attentively at all meetings for threads from earlier meetings that may require revisiting

Helpful Knowledge/Skills
  1. Skill at gathering and defining detail into accurate summary statements rather than just writing down pages of discussions.

  2. Knowledge of the operations and organization of the psychological association.

  3. Adequate written language skills

  4. Ability to organize, focus, listen and write quickly

  5. Fundamental understanding of parliamentary procedures

Past President

Key Responsibilities

  1. Coordinate award nominations and presentations

  2. Support the president's agenda

  3. Continue special projects began in presidency

  4. Communicate with membership, Executive Director and leaders

  5. Provide continuity for board meetings/agenda by remembering prior detail

Helpful Knowledge/Skills

  1. Ability to foster, respect and tolerate diversity of opinions

  2. Attendance at APA State Leadership Conference as President-Elect and President

  3. Willingness to assist with several leadership projects as the majority of the membership will not be active

  4. Assertion of direction and education based upon knowledge amassed at various APA and SPTA leadership events

  5. Skill at developing knowledge of the membership needs, issues facing psychology in the SPTA and accessing greater community connections

President

Key Responsibilities

  1. Provide leadership to guide the association towards it goals and missions

  2. Preside over all board and Executive Committee meetings and acting as official spokesperson for the association

  3. Implement presidential initiatives and agenda

  4. Make committee and task force appointments and help coordinate their work

  5. Help increase membership and encourage current members to become more active in association affairs

Helpful Knowledge/Skills

  1. Developed knowledge of the operations of the association: its history, culture, personnel issues, financial issues

  2. Engagement with the current issues in psychology, politically and professionally

  3. Organizational, management, interpersonal, communication abilities that permit tracking multiple issues/projects simultaneously

  4. Promotion of team rather than micromanaged work

  5. Mediation of conflicting views and consensus building skills

President-Elect

Key Responsibilities

  1. Serve in the absence of the president

  2. Work closely with the president on his/her agenda and association issues

  3. Participate actively in all association business and activities

  4. Develop focus, agenda and priorities for presidential year

  5. Attend APA State Leadership Conference

Helpful Knowledge/Skills

  1. Developed knowledge of the operations of the association, how it is organized, how it functions and how to work with the various staff and officers

  2. Knowledgeable about the political process at the SPTA level as well as the state licensing board

  3. Good interpersonal and communicative skills

  4. Developed vision for the future of psychology

Board Member

Key Responsibilities

  1. Participate in board governance concerning the association

  2. Chair and/or serve on committees or task forces

  3. Attend board meetings

  4. Engage in consistent communication with association members and officers

  5. Volunteer to work on projects of interest and follow-up with further initiatives based upon project results

Helpful Knowledge/Skills

  1. Good leadership and brainstorming skills

  2. Basic management knowledge

  3. High level of energy and commitment

  4. Knowledge of business, marketing or recruiting skills

  5. Interest and enthusiasm

APA Council of Representatives

Key Responsibilities

  1. Attend SPTA Board meetings, vote on issues, assist in the formulation and implementation of policy for the operation of the SPTA

  2. Attend APA council meetings and inform the association membership of relevant APA issues, events and activities by distributing APA reports at the association board meetings, publishing special reports in the association newsletter and communicating with the President and other association Board members about SPTA initiatives that emerge from other SPTAs

  3. Encourage interest and participation of SPTA members in APA issues and governance. Refer members to appropriate APA offices and members

  4. Serve as liaison between the SPTA and APA

  5. Write columns for the SPTA newsletter

Helpful Knowledge/Skills

  1. Previous attendance at APA State Leadership Conference to gain an understanding of how APA and the association can work together effectively

  2. Being able to see the big picture

  3. Some knowledge of parliamentary procedure

  4. Ability to understand system dynamics

  5. Knowledge of national psychological issues on the political and professional level

Several SPTA officers have agreed to serve as mentors for future SPTA Officers. If you would like to contact a mentor, please contact Andy Benjamin.