Congratulations on being elected President of your organization for the 2015-2016 year! The flurry of elections, statements of intent, campaigning, eventual victory, and bittersweet turnover meetings were just the beginning. Welcome to a world of diplomacy, a labyrinth of negotiations between students and administration, a minefield of judgment calls, and above all a chance to make a difference in your community through the leadership of something you love. But before you get there, you must first successfully navigate the transition from participant to leader.
In my experience, turnover meetings can only provide so much information, especially when communication is compressed into a few hours at the end of a hectic semester. In an effort to augment the knowledge already imparted to you by your predecessor, here is a generalizable framework of summer tasks you may want to consider in order to ensure your transition to President is as stress-free as can be.
The Year In Review
Conducting an internal review of this past year’s successes, fall-throughs, and everything in between will help you identify your organization’s baseline for the 2015-2016 year. Perhaps your Eboard sends out surveys after large events to gauge student satisfaction and areas for improvement in future programming. This would be a great place to start because feedback is not just from leadership within your organization, but from the community as a whole.
If your organization does not have such a system, consider implementing one for next year. Go through the year in your mind making note of instances where conflict presented itself. It is important to identify moments of internal conflict within leadership as well as issues between the organization and other students groups.
The previous President may have created a Goals list for this past year. Give it a read and decide which initiatives were successful, which initiatives failed, and which initiatives were missing in your opinion. Also, decide if some of the Goals were unrealistic, and which ones simply do not fit with your vision for the organization’s future.
It’s okay if this initial review process is conducted by you and you alone. The compiled findings will give your Eboard a direction and material to work with. Keeping in mind this may be the first time all of you attempt to work together, this is a great strategy to give everyone structure as well as the opportunity for group critique.
Now that you have a better understanding of your organization’s flow of events during the year, it’s time to create an initial calendar for this coming semester (if not year). Dates are impossible at this stage, but you should have a working sequential order for large staples such as a Welcome Back BBQ or a Fall Lecture. If you take the time over the summer to put main events in order, you can start to understand where gaps are in the calendar. This is incredibly helpful for thinking about new programming you want to instigate as President as well as freeing up your brain for more important things come fall.
Summer is also a great time for networking. This means solidifying connections with organizations you collaborate with regularly, following up with potential new relationships, and initiating contact with hopefuls. Now that you have a barebones calendar, you can provide vague times when your organization will be free for collaborations on lectures, mixers, or panels.
One more thing. It is important to make sure that you as President have access and ownership of all computer media including Facebook, Twitter, GoogleDrive, email accounts, etc. Go through all computerized files and organize them. Create folders for next year. Perhaps Meeting Agenda templates need to be re-designed to accommodate changes in your organization’s day to day events.
As newly elected President, you are the incoming figurehead of your organization. Be proud that you fellow students have entrusted you with this responsibility! I hope that this article has given you some helpful tips on how to transition into your new office, and have a great year.