Yesterday I had an opportunity to witness an official "passing of the baton" event here at Concordia University Texas. I began the College of Business Speaker Series in October of 2006, a monthly event that helped to shape and grow the College of Business over the past 8 years. Yesterday, the hosting of the series was handled by our interim Dean of the College of Business, Dr. Lynette Gillis, and she did a superb job in making it an incredibly successful event. Over 175 students, faculty, staff and community members were in the room listening to Jason Johnson, a CTX alum, being interviewed. I sat in and among the audience, listening and enjoying the presentation. As it finished, I thought to myself that the baton had been passed successfully and the next leg of the race had begun.
I have also been on the receiving end of the baton being passed well, assuming the role of CEO here at Concordia after 12 years of great leadership by Dr. Tom Cedel. When people have asked me how it has been over the past 6 weeks, I get to say that for the most part everything has been smooth and I am enjoying the role. Much of that is a result of having the baton passed onto me in a manner that allowed me to be successful in this role. For that I am thankful and hope to carry that baton for quite a while.
So how can leaders best pass the baton on to to others? Here are a few thoughts from my experiences over the past several months:
- Prepare to pass the baton - who is it that might be best to carry the baton (if needed) and how are they being prepared?
- Let those people know that they might have the baton passed onto them so they can watch and observe in a different manner.
- Give them opportunities to practice what they might have to do in that role.
- Give them assignments outside of their normal area of routine - and support them during that with coaching and mentoring.
- Have a transition plan in place when the baton is getting ready to be passed and then, if possible, work that plan over time.
- Be available for questions after the baton has been passed (but please do not be a nuisance).
- Show up and support them during the passing of the baton (and still ensure they remain the center of attention).
There is much to be said about succession planning, something with which most organizations do a very poor job. I am glad that the College of Business had an interim succession plan in place for the role of the Dean, and I am glad that Tom Cedel gave me multiple chances to practice the role of President and CEO prior to my assuming the office. While nothing can fully prepare one for a new role, there are many ways to help make the transition better. Take some time to day to consider how you are preparing that next person so that when you have to pass the baton on to them, the transition can be as smooth as possible.