Picking Up the Torch with Humility & Gratefulness: How Next Generation Leaders Successfully Transition
The leaders of your organization have started thinking about the next generation of the company – and they approach you. With many ideas swirling through your mind, you leave with hopeful optimism. Though unsure of how it is going to be accomplished, you’re positive it will work. This thought will, of course, be short-lived as you go through the Emotional Cycle of Change:
- Uninformed Optimism
- Informed Pessimism
- Hopeful Realism
- Informed Optimism (Kelley and Conner, 1979).
But for now, you are feeling enthusiastic!
As you prepare yourself for this transition, there will be many items on your checklist. From increasing your understanding of the organization’s creation and the purpose of its existence, to gaining a more robust view of the organization, it is a time to significantly exercise your intellectual capacity. Enjoy it. Understand that this knowledge is not simply for your benefit, but also for the many folks whom you previously had little interaction and/or oversight.
With all of the necessary leadership transition planning conversations, it’s important to keep these three principles in mind:
- Stay Humble – It won’t be an easy transition for anyone, particularly the outgoing leaders. Being gracious to the healthy wants and needs of those involved is of paramount importance. “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others too” (Paul to the church in Philippi). Understand that the manner in which you navigate this transition will affect people whose names you do not even know yet. Be kind, be clear, be constructive – and stay humble.
- Be Thankful – Too often, next generation leaders are quick to announce change initiatives. While these initiatives may be long overdue, it is important to be grateful and thankful for the leaders who laid the solid groundwork to build upon. Give them the genuine recognition tied to their diligence and persistence.
- Pick up the Torch – People are entrusting you to shine the light they have carried for some time. If you are not willing to do that or desire to carry a different light, make sure you have those conversations sooner rather than later. Once you have purposed to lead the organization into the unknown future, understand that you will be the living legacy of the outgoing leaders. Understanding the magnitude of this concept is equal parts heavy and encouraging.
Leadership transitions are difficult, necessary, and can be incredibly rewarding. Outgoing leaders see you as their best chance to advance their noble work. As you prepare for this, you must ask yourself, “Can I accept that responsibility and do what it takes to continue the legacy?”