Leaving a Legacy

A club is only as good as its leadership, and if leadership is not to be perpetuated, then any organization is bound to fail. Of course, you and your chapter leaders are not capable of leading a club indefinitely. If you wish to see your club survive, thrive and grow in to the future - and this should be a prerequisite for all leaders - then an explicit plan must be implemented which recognizes that good leaders do not always just rise to the top, nor do they necessarily recognize their own abilities and inclinations.

This is why any adequate leadership development program must:

  1. Provide ample opportunities for potential future leaders to exhibit their abilities.
  2. Constantly and consciously be on the lookout for potential leaders.
  3. Cultivate multiple leaders at a time with the knowledge that some won’t turn out as expected or not follow through.

Leadership Opportunities

The best way to seek out, develop, and choose future leaders is to provide ample leadership opportunities. These opportunities can take many forms such as committees and special events. For example, if your chapter wishes to run an event, and the event is not meant to be very large or visible, it is a good idea to form a committee and appoint a freshman or new members to act as chairman.

This small leadership role gives that member a chance to show some leadership potential. So long as this potential leader acts in conjunction with the current leadership who can assure that nothing goes seriously wrong, then - not only has a good event been put together - but the current leadership did not have to spend as much time and stress on it as they normally would have. Committees and special events offer the best way to encourage, promote, and identify potential leadership. This is mainly because these opportunities can take on so many different forms, offering the greatest number of interests and opportunities to the greatest number of potential leaders.

It would also be wise of any chapter to create two executive board positions to act as Freshman Liaisons. These two students would be appointed to the executive board after going through an application and interview process and are farmed from the new freshman class at the beginning of the school year. If your school hosts a club fair or similar opportunity for new freshmen to see the various different athletic, social, and club opportunities your school offers, then applications for these positions can be handed out then.

Creating and filling these positions are beneficial for two reasons:

First, applicants for these positions are often times natural leaders and willing to put themselves in uncomfortable situations. They are also likely devoted to your philosophy and willing to work hard for the cause.

Second, the two freshmen who are appointed can be trained and applied as the executive board sees fit. Not only do they become familiar with the policies, goals, and intricacies of the organization, but they have a vested interest in its success, especially if they wish to seek a higher position in the organization in the future. As a warning, however, freshman liaisons often do not turn out the way one predicts and applicants who would otherwise be excellent leaders are inevitably turned down.

It is important that one maintains a discerning eye towards freshman liaison. When an appointed freshman liaison does not fulfill their role according to expectations, it may be necessary to remove them from their position or, at a minimum, make sure that other applicants who were turned down are provided with ample opportunities to show and develop their potential. Just because someone has been turned down for freshman liaison does not mean they are not a viable, potential leader.

Identifying Potential Leaders

It is very important to keep a constant and conscious lookout for potential leaders. These people will often show some or all of the following characteristics:

  1. They show up to many if not all of your organization’s meetings and events, especially the smaller ones.
  2. They offer their time and service.
  3. They are involved with other organizations and groups.
  4. They bring friends to meetings and events.
  5. They show enthusiasm about the organization. Once these people are identified, they should be asked to head up a committee, project, or something else that can not only cultivate their leadership talents and abilities but expose what talents they currently have.

Cultivating Leaders

The success and legacy of your organization is so important that it is vital that you cultivate multiple leaders at a time. This is primarily because many potential leaders won’t turn out as expected: some simply won’t be good leaders worthy of taking on a primary role, others might find interest in other groups or clubs and pursue opportunities in those directions, and yet some might even change their politics and philosophy. In short, make sure your organization is always cultivating multiple leaders at one time.

There are multiple benefits to cultivating several leaders at a time:

  1. The organization can choose from a number of qualified candidates for leadership roles, and
  2. A feeling of competition between potential leaders may make them work harder and do more for the organization in order to prove their leadership capabilities and right to become an official leader in the club.