Passing the Torch of Leadership

Jamie Drahos, Manager of Club Sports, Intramurals and Sports Camps

How to transition your knowledge to the new leaders of your student organization.

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As your role within a club comes to an end, I challenge you to take the time to “Pass the Torch” to the new leaders. You’ve put time and effort into operating this club. This club has become an important part of your MIT experience. Don’t let that all be for nothing. Your ability to provide a smooth transition to your successors can have a significant impact in the longevity and strength of the organization. Tools for a smooth transition include a combination of written documentation, informal conversations, and formal meetings. Keep those in mind as you read through these eight considerations for transitioning leadership.

1. My Job Is…

Clearly explain the primary responsibilities of your role. Were there certain times of the year that you had to take on more responsibility due to the ebb and flow of the club? Are there processes you can document to make them easier for the next person?

2. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Take time to reflect on what you enjoyed most, what you enjoyed least, and what the biggest challenge was to the role. Passing this along not only shares your passion with new leaders but also lets them know what some of the hurdles are likely to be.

3. It’s Who You Know That Matters Most

Being a leader includes working with other people. Clearly explain other officers, student groups, orstaff with whom you worked most closely. Who was the most helpful in getting things done? Who were good resources on campus?

4. If I Had Only Known

Hindsight is 20/20. List a few things you wish you had known before you took the role. List problems or disappointments you encountered as a part of your position and suggest ways of avoiding or correcting them. What did you try that did not work? Why did it not work? Conversely, include specific accomplishments realized during your term and the reasons for their success. What did you try that worked well and you would suggest doing again? Why?

5. Immediately, Soon, and Later

Create a timeline including important dates related to your position. This can be on a semester, annual, or seasonal basis, whatever makes sense for your organization’s calendar of events. New officers tend to be caught off guard as deadlines arise, simply because they didn’t know to be expecting them. Be sure to share any immediate actions that need to be taken.

6. Reference Materials

Make sure the new officers have access to your club’s constitution. Also include supplemental materials and sources of information you created or found most helpful. Include specific faculty/staff/alumni contacts, but also think about local, regional, and national governing bodies or community resources that you relied upon.

7. Looking Into A Crystal Ball

Impart your wisdom and suggestions about what direction you think the club should go in the future. While the new leaders probably won’t follow this exactly, it can help them understand what your vision and future ideas were for the club. Also pass along problems or areas will likely require attention within the next year.

8. Don’t Be a Stranger, But Give Them Space

Take the time to stay in touch with the new leaders. Reach out to them a few times and encourage them to contact you if they hit a roadblock after you have “passed the torch.” However, at some point, you need to let go of the reins. This is now the new officers’ experience, and if you continue to do everything for them, it does not give them the space to lead.

Conclusion

By taking the time to impart your knowledge to the new leaders of the club, you’re setting them up for success and helping to ensure the organization’s longevity. Use a combination of written materials and face-to- face conversation to most successfully “pass the torch”.

Final Tip List

  1. Describe your role
  2. Embrace the highlights and lowlights
  3. Pass along your contact list
  4. Reflect on lessons learned
  5. Make a timeline
  6. Know your resources
  7. Share your vision
  8. Keep in touch

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