Leadership and governance

An association is only as strong as those who lead it. Consequently, engaged and productive leaders are essential. Understanding the dynamics of fostering effective leaders and equipping them with the tools and resources needed to oversee the mission and goals is vital to the dental society’s overall performance, as well as to members’ success.

ADA Leadership and Governance

ADA Leadership & Board Governance – The American Dental Association's legislative body is its House of Delegates, and the Association's managing body is its Board of Trustees. The Association's ten councils serve as policy recommending agencies relative to their specific areas of expertise.

ADA Constitution and Bylaws

State and Local Leadership

ADA State Presidents-Elect Conference – A unique and not-to-miss opportunity for state president-elects. Convene in an educational and networking forum that is devoted to helping the incoming leader succeed as presidents of state dental societies.

Leadership Development Toolkit – This toolkit assists states in identifying key needs for leadership education among volunteer leaders and staff.

State & Local Constitution and Bylaws [sample template]

Past President Pins – In order to visibly honor this important role, the ADA provides “past president pins” for outgoing presidents of state dental associations. All pins are sent in January to the dental society for direct distribution.


Mission and Vision – Focusing on mission and vision during leadership discussions can help guide strategic decision making.

Board Term Limits – Leveraging term limits ensures opportunity for diversity in perspective, as well as opportunities to fill the leadership pipeline.

Board Orientation Checklist – Providing new Board members with an official board orientation is essential to helping them effectively fulfill their role and responsibilities.

Board Assessment – It's important to regularly complete self-assessments. The ADA used this questionnaire in 2021 – tailor it to suit your needs.

Leadership Composition Analysis Template – Evaluating your leadership composition against your member composition can help ensure relevance in decision making.

Executive Director Lifecycle Toolkit – The toolkit highlights the various employment stages of an executive director.

ADA Leadership Institute Resource Guide – This Guide provides a comprehensive overview of leadership resources available through the ADA.


Leadership and Board Governance Workshop – This workshop will enable your dental society board to develop an appreciation for good governance practices, understand governance roles and responsibilities, and more. Contact your Client Services Manager to schedule a workshop.

Leadership Institute Video Series + Supplemental Materials – The ADA Leadership Institute has established a video library for dentists that serve as leaders on subjects such as: Volunteer Management, Practical Strategic Planning, Governance, Decision Making, Financial Practices, Engagement in Continuing Education and Operations to name a few. These online offerings provide a great way to build leadership skills and pick up free CE.

Leadership Books

What makes a great organization

  • Good to Great by Jim Collins
  • Drive by Daniel Pink
  • Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
What makes a great leader
  • Managing the Non-Profit Organization by Peter Drucker
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George
How to manage conflict and have a great outcome
  • Crucial Conversations by Grenny, Patterson, and McMillan
Women leaders
  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg
  • How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life Book by Geoffrey Lewis, Joanna Barsh, and Susie Cranston
  • Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success Kindle Edition by Sylvia Ann Hewlett
Mindfulness practice
  • Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking (Mindfulness Books Series Book 1) by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport
  • Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion by Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee
  • The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  • Jon Kabat Zinn has several books on mindfulness practice and meditation