Leaving a Legacy: Successful Leadership Tranisiton

Leaving A Legacy: Successful Leadership Transition

I graduated this weekend with my Masters in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago. I’m still letting that sink in. What an exciting time to be at a crossroads, going from full-time student to full-time employee. Not everything went as planned, but plans unfold the way they do for a reason and in its own season. One thing I did have control over though, was my legacy. Before leaving Columbia, I saw the need for my contirbutions and impact to continue past my graduation. How does one do that? How can you make this work for your own legacy, at school or on the job?

Leaving A Legacy Title Photo

Build Relationships

The most productive way to ensure long-term impact is by developing meaningful relationships. No, I’m not asking you to cross the workplace relationship line, but showing a general interest in someone can go a long way.

Communication is….you guessed it…key! Probably one of the hardest parts when it comes to working with a group, yet most productive when done correctly. Most people (including me) want to be heard but hardly wants to listen. Everyone takes a look at the world from their perspective but hardly takes the time to view it from other’s eyes. When you’re able to see what others do and identify their strengths, you can work more effectively together.

Relationships = Legacy Building

How does this all tie into leaving a legacy? The best way to impact change is by impacting people. I love the quote, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” Developing strong relationships with others, while bringing out their best, will resonate with them forever.

The best way to impact change is by impacting people. Click To Tweet

Here are a few practical implications for ensuring a smooth transition. Although making connections is key, there are key logistical things you can do to ensure seamless communication from you to the next person. The advice is applicable for job positions, organization leadership, or general group transition where you would like your ideas to be carried on.

Leave Great Notes

In my first organization position as secretary, I developed a leadership guide. I was the first to provide this and it was literally detailed notes of everything I did in my role. By simply providing contact information, general timelines, and our roster the next year kicked off without a hitch. Passing along notes can make the biggest difference in the world. For early organizations that are still establishing processes, this is a great first step.

Establish A Shared Drive

As an executive board member of my sorority at the collegiate level, I had the opportunity to operate within an organization that followed Roberts Rules of Order. Through that organization, I understood the importance of proper note taking and organizing documents in a shared file. We used Yahoo Files at the time, but that system is a bit dated. I recommend any project management system such as Google Drive, Asana, Trello, Slack, Basecamp, etc. Providing a “home base” for files that can be accessed by varying people throughout the years can be invaluable. I was able to access files for reference in 2013 from members who transitioned in 2010. If you operate in a role or team that naturally manages lots of membership turnover, this is the best option.

Create A Constitution & Bylaws

Certain organizations just need a general structure of procedures outlined. The new leadership will reference it to run general activities in their own way. Through Student Government at Lewis University, I was able to develop a Constitution and Bylaws that served as guiding documents for the next group. Although these vague and hyper-generalized, it provides a framework for the next person taking over your responsibilities. For groups that face many external factors that may change general operations drastically (such as an external overseeing body), broad guiding documents such as these will be applicable.

Provide An Implementation Guide

Lastly, at Columbia College Chicago, my team developed an Implementation Guide for the upcoming leadership team of Startup Weekend Chicago Creative. We saw the need to share our best practices, contacts, and general timeline information to assist the next team. Something like this with more detail and guidance is perfect for a group taking on a complex project as newcomers.

Do This Too!

Lastly, here are a few applicable points for all of these scenarios:

  • Have a meeting or remote conference call to officially transfer responsibilities and answer questions
  • Provide open communication for a set time after the transition has happened to answer any other questions
  • Keep in touch as a professional contact, you never know what your relationship can offer down the line.

Want more information on organizing leadership transition or leaving a legacy in your position? Check out our webinars page.

Do you have any helpful tips on transitioning roles? Leaving a legacy? Post it in the comments!