Shared Leadership for Tomorrow’s Chapter Leaders
Board transitions are an inevitable aspect of chapter management. Some boards perform better than others, but if you take the time to effectively transition your board, you can not only prevent board burnout, but also give the new board the skills to engage both with members and the community at large. The board is a legacy creation incubator aimed at keeping the chapter moving forward and building at the same time. Maintaining a tunnel vision approach in the preparation of the board ensures that each board member clearly understands their duties. When you hand off leadership, activities will then continue along as usual, with as little interruptions as possible.
Training is an essential part of the board transitioning process and should include reading guidelines and manuals. Exiting officers should also share in the training responsibility. They share in the leadership of the new board generation, just as the board before them shared in their leadership.
Shared leadership models are more than just the continuation of the chapter – they require all board volunteers to own their stake in the management of the chapter. Neither the President nor any other chair on the board are expected to do everything. Engage your board volunteers within their role, sharing the leadership of the chapter by doing their job.
Here are 7 ways to guide the board to shared leadership:
- Ensure understanding of the duties. Even before a person runs for or is appointed to hold a board position, they should understand the role they play in the chapter. There should be no questions about what they will be expected to do once they take office. Further, create content right on your chapter’s webpage that offers all members information about officer roles, allowing an opportunity for better communication between a chapter’s board and its members and the creation of a board legacy aimed at success.
- Plan early for board transitions. Hold elections a few months before the end of the current leadership tenure expires. This way new board members can learn their new role without the risk of impacting the success of the chapter. Stay concentrated in building a successful board that provides strong leadership to your members.
- Focus on training. There are many ways to train new leaders and what works best for one chapter may not work for others. With that in mind, there are some technical best practices for board management that every new board member should be expected to learn as it is relevant to their role. StarChapter can help with this through our ongoing board training webinars led by the StarChapter Support Team. These sessions cover different aspects of the software and help for both new and existing officers.
- Recognize that some “on the job” training is inevitable. No matter how hard you try, some experiences simply cannot be prepared for. There are times when the unexpected happens and your board needs to be prepared for that. Training should give your leaders the skills to calmly learn new ways to handle situations as they arise, inspiring the incubation of ideas that enhance the continuation of a successful board.
- New officer shadowing. With early elections and appointments, new board member volunteers can follow their predecessor around and learn through exemplification. In fact, you should build this into the duties up front so that potential officers know that they are expected to shadow in the beginning and train at the end of their tenure.
- Accept that members are a part of the leadership process. Your chapter’s members have a role to perform, just as officers do – though for them it may simply be to attend the meetings that the board plans. Listen to their voice as expressed through surveys and conversations, allowing them to be leaders of a different kind. Remember, this may inspire them to join the board in a more formal way down the road – so they too can be a part of the legacy creation of your chapter.
- Hold a meet and greet for new board members. This allows for members to know who their new board members are. It helps to foster a team mentality that is essential for shared leadership to work. And it recognizes that members who don’t hold a leadership role are an integral part of the team.
Being a board leader isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be difficult either. Board members are part of a legacy striving to provide value to both your members and the trade or profession at large. By building a team and sharing the leadership, your chapter can only be destined for success as they build and thrive.
Looking for quick tips on how to use the StarChapter software to better serve your members and save time? Check out our new Knowledgebase, loaded with video tutorials, user guides, and articles especially for board volunteers! All videos are now in a format that does not require an external media player.