Navigating the Leadership Transition

Navigating the Leadership Transition

3 important tips for passing the torch of excellence.


Whether it happens during the spring term, over the summer or when students return in the fall, the successful transition of major officers is the key to a remarkable year for any organization. No two years are alike, for any organization on any campus. One year may be “the best ever,” while another posed tremendous challenges that needed to be overcome simply to survive. That is the exciting part of being a student leader and staff member —the uniqueness that each new academic year brings.

Here are three suggestions for an outstanding transition of officers:

  1. Keep the suggestions for change confidential. This process keeps personalities, petty jealousies and individual conflict situations out of what is best for the group, the students and the campus. Using the Mind Mapping technique will allow each individual to voice their opinions and suggestions for change in an anonymous fashion that allows the group to develop a solid plan of action for the future with no ulterior motives interfering.
  2. Bring in a focus group of students and staff to share their perceptions. Over the course of a year, it is easy for any organization and it’s members to become oblivious to the perceptions those on campus have of their group, its mission, purpose and level of success. Bringing in an unbiased group of students and staff, who are asked directed questions, can help an organization create a blueprint for future success that they may not have discovered on their own.
  3. Evaluate the entire year like you do a major event. For any major event, there is a planning process, an implementation directive and an after action review. The same should be done for the success of a year. If something worked, keep it and share suggestions for its improvement. If something failed, do your best to ascertain why and decide if it is worth attempting next year or not. If something was obviously detrimental to the group and its members, remove it from the equation and replace it with a hopeful new endeavor. The unknown can be incredibly exciting!

These tips were created and shared by David Coleman, multiple speaker of the year winner, who has lead dozens of leadership retreats and given hundreds of leadership keynotes worldwide. Transitional leadership is one of his prime areas of expertise as he sees it as incredibly important to the success of any given academic year.

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