Tuesday, April 13, 2010

All Good Things Must Come to an End: Leadership Transition

The story is a common one, and we see it all the time: a campus group flourishes, holds tons of great events, and builds a reputation as a great organization and a force to be reckoned with. But then, the awesome leadership graduates, and one or two underclassmen struggle to get the group up and running the next semester.

Amazing FMLAs and feminist campus organizations have fallen into this trap. It is remarkable to see how much can be lost in just one weak semester. BUT your group does not have to follow this pattern. Some tips and tricks to make sure your leadership transition runs smoothly:

  • If you have not already done so, hold elections as soon as possible. Set the ground rules for the election meeting ahead of time. These guidelines should be in your constitution. But in case they aren't, consider who is allowed to run, and who is allowed to vote. Should people have attended a certain number of meetings in order to cast a ballot? Setting the rules ahead of time and publicizing them well will minimize the drama later.
  • Once officers are elected, have each outgoing officer meet with the person taking over his/her/hir position. Have an executive meeting between both the outgoing board and the incoming leadership, and consider holding a fun, casual event like a potluck, so everyone can get to know each other a little better.
  • If you are an outgoing group leader with a lot of good contacts, make sure you give them all to new leadership. For instance, introduce your new president to the student activities staff member who always helps you expedite your room request forms, or the finance board chair who is also a total feminist at heart. Encourage new group leaders to cultivate these relationships and seek out new connections as well.
  • Create a binder with all the advice you can think of. So much institutional memory gets lost when people graduate. Consider including lists of old events and how you pulled them off; guides to navigating the bureaucratic procedures at your school, including funding deadlines; conferences and national organizations of which to be aware; and everything you wish you knew when you were starting out.
  • Keep in contact with each other. While new leaders need to do their own thing, and recent graduates are moving on, it is important that you feel comfortable calling each other. New leaders shouldn't be afraid to ask for advice, and the veterans should be happy to give it.
And last but certainly not least, contact your national campus organizer at FMF and introduce her to the new leaders of your group. We are here to be a resource to you! Organizers can be reached at 703-522-2214 (East Coast) and 310-556-2500 (West Coast).

Keeping all these tips in mind should help you have a smooth transition into the next year. Good luck!

This article was featured in our April 2010 monthly Choices eZine. Sign up for our alerts to stay up-to-date with the latest feminist news and to receive the monthly eZine!

No comments: