Passing the Torch: Effectively Transitioning Leadership
One challenge that college councils constantly face is the development and turnover of leadership. In just four short years, men must learn to become leaders, guide their councils and then train others to do the same. While opportunities for leadership growth and development occur throughout the year, they are most important following elections in the spring semester. Newly elected officers must quickly embrace their roles if they are to utilize summer vacation as a planning opportunity for the fall semester.
In addition to having outgoing leaders train those elected to replace them, we recommend the following best practices to effectively develop leadership in your council:
1). Conduct one business meeting after elections
Many council elect officers at the last business meeting of the year. While in theory this makes sense, councils should have one business meeting after elections to allow the newly elected leaders a chance to address the council on their plans and initiatives for the coming year. This meeting should not wait for the fall as plans for a fall Rush/Recruiting Week should be in the works over the summer.
2). Install officers if possible before the end of the term
If your council can coordinate an Officer Installation Ceremony with its District Deputy before the end of the school year, do so. This allows each newly elected officer to officially assume his roles and responsibilities prior to summer vacation. Additionally, remember that the Officer Installation Ceremony is an open event and an opportunity for friends, family and the campus community to join for the ceremony and a reception afterward.
3). Utilize junior Grand Knights
Although any Third Degree member can be grand knight, most councils have found success electing a junior grand knight who can then mentor the next grand knight as a senior. Furthermore, this prevents a senior grand knight from dividing time between making post-graduate plans and leading the council.
4). Offer leadership roles to freshmen
If juniors are recommended to be grand knights, how can they be prepared to be elected in the spring of their sophomore year? This starts with offering leadership roles and responsibilities to freshmen. Have honorary outside and inside guard roles that are given to promising freshmen; invite them to officer meetings; and allow them to manage part of an event. From there, responsibility should grow as you give them more leadership with events and elect them to a higher officer position sophomore year. A council should develop several men who could assume the position of grand knight in case of unforeseen circumstances. For example, a potential candidate may decide to study abroad, or perhaps take a sudden leave of absence from the university. Due to these and similar situations, it’s always good to have a backup.