A general secretary, also known as a first secretary or even secretary general, is usually the leader or head of operations for an organization such as a union, association, or church. His duties are very different from the average picture of a secretary, as he is generally responsible for conducting or attending higher-profile meetings on behalf of the organization and making decisions regarding the entire organization. This position usually requires significant travel, and many general secretaries take advice and duties from every aspect of the organization.
The general secretary will commonly meet with leaders of other organizations to arrange partnerships or other beneficial contracts with them. For example, the general secretary of a religious organization may meet with leaders of other organizations for fund raisers and new partnerships or even to discuss mergers. Secretaries may also meet to discuss business matters of their collective groups and how they can improve.
Quite often, a general secretary is also responsible for overseeing and improving financial relations of her association, as well as maintaining the association’s positive public image. A secretary is generally voted into her position by a committee or sometimes by a union-wide vote and is thus given authority to be the population’s voice. It is on the secretaries to help decide what is best for their entire organization and its people, as well as present their beliefs, values, and general standing to others. Beneficial events and partnerships can not only make more progress, but may also improve the well-being and view of the organization as a whole.
To maintain as many contacts as general secretaries typically have as well as make new ones, there are usually many meetings. These can be lunch meetings, phone conferences or destination meetings forcing the secretary to travel. He must discuss concerns brought to him by a council, find solutions, and make decisions based on the information he has been given so that the organizations involved can work together. At times, he may even need to organize rallies or strikes on behalf of his union or group. Other times, he may simply be required to update the council and people of urgent news or pertinent developments.
Excellent organization and communication skills are generally a requirement of any general secretary. Many organizations may also require a bachelor’s degree and many years in the particular group or industry in question. An ability to handle stress and travel are also usually important for a successful general secretary.