Campus Chapter Best Practices: Transitioning Your Leadership


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^^Above: Speaker Nancy Pelosi transitions her leadership role in the U.S. House of Representatives to John Boehner^^

By Marissa Blankenship, GenUN Fellow 

As the spring semester comes to a close, chapters should transition their leadership in advance for the 2016-2017 school year. By holding elections for new officer positions before the school year ends, you can ensure the transfer of critical knowledge and best practices to ensure that next year is the best one yet.

Does your chapter have a protocol for giving new officers the necessary information to take over a leadership role? If not, then your chapter should consider establishing a transition period. Transition periods are helpful for both the outgoing and the incoming leadership teams to both transfer knowledge and recognize the contributions of outgoing leaders. Listed below are some suggestions for establishing a transition period in your chapter.

  1. Put a time period on the calendar to set aside for transitioning. Whether it’s a week, a few days, or a daylong retreat, it’s important to have a time dedicated to your transition materials.
  2. Have outgoing leadership members CC their successors on emails during the transition period. This way, when the new leaders take office, they will have an understanding of what was happening with the program before they gain all the responsibility.
  3. Have a day set aside for incoming and outgoing members to have hour-long one-on-one conversations. During these conversations, outgoing members should have any relevant documents and emails ready to present to the new leadership team member. The conversations should center any relevant challenges and innovations that the outgoing position-holder wishes to highlight.
  4. Be sure to transition your outside contacts, as well. If a position involves dealing with contacts outside of the organization, be sure that they are made aware of the leadership transition. Have the outgoing position holder send an email with the new officer in the CC line of the email.

A few non-logistical questions new leaders should ask their predecessors include:

  1. What were some of the obstacles you encountered in your role? Do you wish you had dealt with any of them differently?
  2. Is there anything you wished you would have accomplished but didn’t have time to?
  3. What were your proudest moments?
  4. If you could do it all again, is there anything you would have done differently?
  5. Knowing what you know now, what would you go back and tell yourself at the beginning of your term? 

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