Brad Golson knows a lot about post-election transitions. In his role as a senior advisor at the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition, Golson has worked before and after the 2016 election to help the incoming and outgoing presidential administrations transition more effectively.
In SigEp chapters, just like in Washington, D.C., the effectiveness of elected leaders starts with a strong transfer of power and transition into office. If done correctly, you will likely accomplish your goals faster, reduce the stress you have upon you during the school year and set yourself up to accomplish more than you originally intended.
Below are a set of fundamental questions and suggestions that should help guide an effort to transition in new leadership at your chapter.
How are you going to run your “White House?”
As a new executive board or committee, you must determine how you will organize, communicate and operate throughout the year. Start with setting a regular meeting time, location and standard for running the meeting. Set the tone of the meeting from the first gathering and clarify how decisions will be made. Once these things are in place, establish guidelines for when your chapter counselor and/or AVC needs to be involved.
While you may know your fellow officer’s family, major or hometown, it doesn’t mean you know his preferred communication style (email, text or in-person), work style (early in the morning or at night, alone or with a group, etc.), or his strengths as a leader (knows how to run a meeting, has managed people, is a good writer, can give a strong presentation, etc.). Take the time in the first meeting or during a retreat to learn these types of things about your fellow officers and committee members so you can work most effectively together.
What is your 100-, 200- and 300-day plan?
You must set clear goals and communicate them to the chapter and your chapter counselor. To show that you are making progress on these goals, break them down into smaller pieces and set milestones. In the U.S. government, a new administration sets clear goals for its first 100 or 200 days to demonstrate their ability to get things done and to get early movement on major issues that may take longer to address.
Develop milestones for your goals that align with obvious time frames on your campus such as the end of the spring semester, the end of the summer and the end of your term. This will help you hold individuals accountable and communicate to the chapter that you’re taking your job seriously.
To coincide with your plans and milestones, take time early on to identify all the individuals who will be impacted by the work of your Fraternity (your stakeholders), and set plans on how you will communicate to these individuals about the activities, successes and major changes in your chapter.
How are you helping your “administration” grow and become stronger?
The U.S. President has approximately 4,100 appointments to fill at the beginning of an administration. This is usually a mix of individuals with years of government experience and individuals who have never stepped into a federal building. Similarly, some of your fellow officers and committee chairs may have never served in a leadership position. Take the selection process seriously. Don’t assume someone is a perfect leader just because they were elected or appointed. Be a coach and mentor to your fellow chapter leaders—their success impacts your success.
Educate your chapter leaders of available mentors who can help them enhance their leadership and management skills. This could include equipping them to effectively run meetings, resolve conflicts, manage projects, or deal with poor performers. Your fraternity and sorority life office, career services office, chapter counselor and AVC can all be great resources to your team.
Who are your senior advisors?
The U.S. President needs individuals to consult with on important matters. You should speak with people that previously held your position — not just the individual before you, and not just from your chapter — to obtain lessons learned and get feedback on your ideas. Identify 2–3 individuals and ask them explicitly if they would serve as a sounding board for you throughout your term. Turn to these individuals to seek guidance on leadership, to help solve challenges that come up and to share your successes throughout the year.
How are you helping the next guy?
Each new administration shouldn’t start from the ground up. Whether or not you support your successor, a smooth transfer of power is in the best interest of the organization that you govern. At each meeting, record major actions or decisions made during that week along with recommendations for the next officers. Build this calendar and set of recommendations into your transition materials.
By the end of the summer, begin building a list of individuals that could potentially succeed you in office. Invite these individuals to your meetings and talk with them one-on-one to provide a full understanding of the duties of your position and the opportunities and challenges associated with it.
New officer checklist:
- Establish a regular meeting time and location for your executive or committee meetings.
- Meet with individuals that previously held or currently hold your position.
- Set clear milestones for each goal or major activity that you want to accomplish and regularly update the chapter on progress.
- Become familiar with the work styles of the individuals that you will be working with the most.
- Establish a regular meeting schedule and set of expectations for those meetings.
- Assess your stakeholders, begin building relationships with them, and set a regular communication strategy for each.
- Work with individuals on your committees to strengthen them as managers and leaders.
- Record all major actions and decisions for future officers to reference.