The Value of Leadership Transitions

The Value of Leadership Transitions

By Bruce Hammond

I started as the Director of Governance & Operations for ֱ client the in late April 2016. Coming onto the staff at the time I did, I was able to be here right as our current president began her two-year term. On May 5 at the conclusion of our conference, that term will conclude.

As I was recently reading her final president’s message for our e-newsletter, which laid out all of the things she was proud of in her two years as the organization’s leader, the impact that has been made under her leadership dawned on me. But what stuck out most wasn’t the growth in membership or revenue, the new strategic plan, our enhanced focus on diversity, or the impact of our advocacy efforts. While all of those have been phenomenal, what resonated most with me, the governance and ops guy, were the positive steps taken toward leadership development and succession on our committees. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right – I don’t get out much…

Anyway, our president has pushed to ensure new leaders are being identified early in their committee service. This allows new leaders to get aquainted with their leadership duties and ensures ample training and membership from the chairman rotating off. This is going to pay dividends in the future and I applaud her for this effort.

As I look at it, an effective leadership development and succession effort will accomplish a few important things:

  • More opportunities will be created for people who are interested in leading. Typically, this also benefits members in their professional role, adding value to both them and the organization. It’s a win-win.
  • A new precedent will be set that members are not going to have to wait many years to have a chance to lead.   
  • We will have the chance to identify the emerging leaders who one day may be right for higher leadership in the association. If someone is a rock star committee chair, they also have the potential to make a great board member down the road.   

And while all of these are very positive things, changes in committee leadership bring about a variety of feelings for those taking on the roles– the positive feelings of excitement and rejuvenation, as well as the not-so-positive feelings of trepidation and fear.


I speak from experience. I’ve recently been asked to chair a working group for my professional association, and I can personally attest to all of these feelings being present. I’m excited to have the chance to take the reins and see if we can move the needle even further than we did when I was a member of the group last year. I’m honored to have been chosen and thrilled to work on my leadership skills in this way. At the same time, I’m nervous the working group won’t succeed in reaching its goals and that I won’t make the impact I hope to as the leader. 

This personal experience has also presented me with the opportunity to step into the shoes of the leaders who will be taking over the committees I manage for ASPHO, and has given me interesting insight into how I can provide additional support to them as they move into their roles. And none of it would have been possible if my professional association didn’t have a good succession plan in place.

So often, the learning experiences in our personal and professional world are aligned. Will ASPHO be successful in its succession planning efforts? Will I find success in my new volunteer role? I sure hope so. I guess you’ll have to wait for a future blog to find out…

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