This is the time of year we see boards begin to shift officers to plan for the following calendar year. As unconventional, challenging, and chaotic as the last 18 months have been, many more associations have flourished than floundered. Having a can-do board of directors led by an indefatigable president and creative staff has assured their group’s prospects for success.

The old saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” fits here. What board presidents learned during these challenging times was who stepped up and who did not. As a president’s term may be up in the next few months, I see these four gifts they leave their membership:

  1. A clear succession.  Ideally a vice president or vice chair has shadowed the president during their term. If that was not possible, they lead the successor search wisely understanding the succor may not need to be your clone.
  2. Agree to stay.  Continue in an active board seat for at least a year for institutional knowledge and to assist with transition details.
  3. Clean up the board.  Having worked with all the directors, the president may invite less active volunteers to step away from their board duties. There’s a gentle way to do this and allows fresh leadership.
  4. Review the staff.  To be honest, we have been hired by more departing presidents than incoming ones. It may be the ultimate gift of professional management and better member value delivery.

It may not be easy to do these difficult things on your way out of the top job, but it is a gift you handle with your successor as you “fix”’ the things that held your team back.  Handling these four tasks at the end of your term is a kindness and the professional way to hand over the gavel.

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