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Why this association CEO recommends two-by-two matrices

Ashley Neal
November 3, 2020
Why this association CEO recommends two-by-two matrices

As a man who strives to fulfil meaningful missions, Pat Jones — the Executive Director and CEO of The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association — is full of great tips and tricks, personal experiences and even a great book recommendation. 

His motivation? 

“A sense of satisfaction and the result of getting into the flow of things and being absorbed by something that really interests me,” he said.

Talking to the people who are in charge of so many wonderful associations has been one of my favorite parts of working with Sidecar. So, to highlight some of the interesting organizations I have come across, I began sharing some of my favorite responses from these interviews on our blog and video clips in our member-exclusive Facebook group. This is what Jones had to say:

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Have you ever had to unlearn something in your professional life?

I guess the unlearning would be doing away with the notion that I can control anything. I think when I was younger, I felt like I should be able to control certain things, but I recognize that I can influence things but I don't really control anything except me. So that makes me think of Dwight Eisenhower, who said something like the art of leadership is getting someone to do what you want them to do, because they want to do it.

What’s your most used productivity hack?

Probably something out of Stephen Covey's book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” I really love the notion of Quadrant 2 time management. He draws this matrix, this two by two matrix, where he says the vertical axis is important, the horizontal axis is urgent and in the upper left hand corner, you have the things that are urgent and important. These are like the crises that you have to deal with now. But in the upper right hand quadrant is important, but not urgent. And that's where the planning and the creativity and the innovation and the long-range thinking takes place. His view is that if you focus on Quadrant 2, that that will become bigger and bigger, and the urgent and important quadrant will get smaller, you'll have fewer crises.

What’s one thing you find challenging about your work?

I'm an association guy, and I get to deal with a new president every year. So one of the challenging things for me is to understand how to work with a new chief elected officer each year, and trying to crawl inside that person's head and figure out, where can we meet? And how can we be on the same page with one another?

What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?

Hire slowly, fire quickly.

What does leadership mean to you and how do you work to emulate it in your association?

A big part of leadership is articulating a vision. And this is why I think having a strategic plan is so important. We're currently working on a three year plan in IBTTA, and this plan is a successor to many other strategic plans. What the plan does is it creates a vision of the future. What is the future going to look like? Who is going to benefit? Who is and at what cost? Leadership is really about creating a vision that people can align behind and work towards, so that means we have to have good communicators, we have to have people who can really articulate in simple and elegant terms, what is the vision? Why do we want to go there? And how are we going to get there?

Have anyone you want to see get the Q&A treatment? Send us their name, no ask is too big!

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Ashley Neal

Ashley joined the Sidecar team as Community Coordinator in 2020 and spends her working hours focused on providing value to our members. In her free time, Ashley enjoys DIY crafts and playing with her puppy, Scooby.

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