What Makes A Great Head Of Membership?

In a recent post, we shared how critical it was to ensure your new membership leaders have an appropriate onboarding experience.

However, before onboarding comes recruiting and understanding what the skills, abilities, and traits are that you are looking for in the key roles in your membership organisation. 

Continuing our series of what to look out for let’s look at a key role – head of membership services. 

Depending on your individual membership organisation you may require a specific or additional skill set or experience level. However, the following are the critical elements to look out for. 


Future Thinking Problem Solver 



The world is changing and fast.  

This realisation has not mapped over for all membership leaders. In today’s business, climate membership organisations can flourish provided they put membership engagement, increased benefits and personalisation at the top of their agenda. 

Any business leader will be tackling problems daily, and the membership sector is no different.  

Successful Head of Membership leaders are problem solvers.  

They’re the first to notice when something isn’t right with your organisation, and they’re always available to offer creative ideas on how you can fix common issues. 

By keeping the future in mind while they observe the present, a competent Head of Membership can address challenges before they arise and ensure that your membership team stay consistently happy and engaged.  


Communication Expertise 

Though the appropriate knowledge and experience are imperative – more on that later – a leader will excel at communication.  If they don’t, they will struggle from day one in your organisation.  

I was listening to a business podcast the other day, and the broadcaster highlighted that the two key attributes of a successful leader today were the ability to communicate and a consuming passion for what they are doing.  Over the years placing many leaders in membership organisations I agree. 

A Head of Membership will communicate and interact with people across the organisation in addition to the thousands of members you serve. 



One day, they might be helping the membership managers excel in the role, another working with policy members to ensure that members’ ideas are voiced throughout the company. 

Because they work in so many different parts of the organisation, they will have the ability to speak to and influence people at every level, using language that they understand. 

They will also have the added bonus of being able to coach and transfer this skill to their team too. 


They Are Strategic Thinkers With A Breadth Of Knowledge and Experience 

You will have heard the saying, “an inch wide and mile deep”? When it comes to a Head Of Membership role this individual is more inch deep than mile wide.  However, they will have had a level of experience across many departments which helps develop their strategic awareness. 

Depending on the specific organisation or body, the main purpose of this role is to lead and manage the Membership Team to deliver against the strategic plan; which they will have been heavily involved in creating. 

Deliverables will normally include: 

  • Developing an annual business plan. 
  • Deliver membership growth and engagement; known as an attract and delight process. 
  • Ultimately delivering revenue targets across the organisation. 

When it comes to knowledge and expertise, they will dedicate themselves to constantly learning and building their skill sets. They develop their knowledge in multiple ways from attending the latest industry events or relevant training programmes or consuming anything they can on iTunes or Amazon. 


Activity, Involvement and Culture Are Their Mantra’s 



Finally, a Head of Membership will know how to drive lasting change in a business through their ability to translate the membership’s vision and values and they ‘get’ involved – whether that is driving a CSR policy or attending the summer BBQ. 

[Hint: When you are recruiting for this role ensure you craft appropriate questions around this area.] 

They devote themselves to the process of helping other people in their membership, be that employees or members, to develop their skills and unlock their true potential.  

Sometimes, this might be establishing training initiatives for specific teams, acting as a mentor to other managers in the organisation or attending local member events on a regular basis. 


What Next? 

At membershipbespoke, our years of experience recruiting in this sector means we are connected to many Head of Membership candidates who might be the ideal fit for your Trade Associations, Unions, Professional and Regulatory Bodies. 

To find out more about how we can help you call us on 0203 4403653. 





About Us 

The membershipbespoke group remains the only specialist recruitment organisation in the UK, which offers a dedicated service tailored to the needs of Trade Associations, Unions, Professional and Regulatory Bodies. 

We use our considerable expertise in successfully recruiting for positions across every department within a membership context. To find out more call us on 0203 4403653 or email us here. 

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