June 2022 Leader Letter

You Got This Transition!

Consider five ‘new reality’ leadership tips to help you pass the torch to your successor more effectively.

By Renée Covino

It's leadership transition time, so of course, it's important for clubs and Districts to preserve their knowledge base and serve their respective clubs and Districts in the most effective way possible. There is Toastmasters protocol for that, such as what is outlined for Districts in Leadership Transition.

But when toolkits like this were first being assembled, the world had not gone through a global pandemic and its aftermath. The definition of leadership today has expanded—and must include some ‘new reality’ truths that can also be applied to successfully passing the leadership torch:

  1. Expect that most of us are experiencing higher levels of worry, stress, anger, sadness, and burnout. This applies to your successor, as well as the membership. Address it in your meetings with your successor as a way for you to go over duties on a “human” level and for them to keep it in mind when dealing with District and club issues in the coming year. It should no longer be the elephant in the room, but rather, a given that provides opportunity to help uplift one another in ways like never before.
  2. Foster dialog that is more relational than transactional. Again, this applies to you passing the torch, as well as to your successor when communicating with fellow leaders and members. Everyone should strive to get to know each other's motivations and life purpose—and how those might best align with the mission and vision of the organization. Leaders should practice creating a two-way dialog that is more coach-like than boss-like.
  3. Utilize technology platforms and encourage the widespread practice of new online capabilities. This applies to hybrid meetings and events. Make sure your successor is in favor of hybrid meetings and knows how to bring others up to speed into this necessary ‘new normal.’ Point them in the direction of Hybrid Meetings tools and tips that support the combination of online and in-person learning. Meet with your successor both in person and online to show support for how both can work in tandem.
  4. Don't fall prey to Imposter Syndrome; talk about it and educate yourself. Recognize that feeling like a fraud in work or leadership is gaining traction as a mental health phenomenon, whereby individuals hold themselves up to impossible standards, only to lead to the dreaded burnout, anxiety, depression, and guilt. This is particularly prevalent when starting new roles or responsibilities. It's best to talk this out with other leaders you respect, a therapist, and potentially with your successor. You can educate one another through research and by attending learning events; the upcoming 2022 International Convention even has a session slated to address this pertinent topic.
  5. Generate an inclusive space. You should have been doing this before handing over the leadership baton to your successor, but regardless, remember to have the inclusive discussion before you leave. Leaders today need to be uber aware of underrepresented demographics on their teams and in their organizations; they need to consider how they can create a more supportive environment for everyone. Ask the tough questions and listen—and encourage your successor to do the same. Ignoring this topic for fear of saying the wrong thing will not make it go away. Sometimes, underrepresented individuals just want to be heard. Try to link up mentors with those who want or need it. If that potential mentor is you, put yourself out there.

Additional Resources:

Toastmasters International: Leadership Transition

4 Essential Tips for Outgoing Leaders

10 Leadership Essentials for 2022