Most elected leaders know their role is to advance the mission and serve the membership. Others have their own approach.

These statements raise fears among executive directors and staff:

  • This is a list of my pet projects.
  • I want to make my mark on the organization.
  • Here’s how I want you to help me leave a great legacy.

What Strategic Plan?

The best question from an incoming president is, “Where is the strategic plan? My job is to advance the existing plan.”

A strategic plan is a multiyear roadmap for successive officers and boards. The document helps stay the course. An incoming president wreaks havoc by ignoring the plan in favor of a personal agenda.

Themes and Personal Initiatives

I have seen presidents unpack a suitcase full of personal priorities. They have given little thought as to how their interests fit within the existing plan.

In one organization, the president advised staff through the installation speech, “My theme for the year is driving excellence. My initiatives will be technology and growth, and my priorities are member satisfaction and marketing campaigns.”

The staff has to determine how to change direction or explain how to make the new initiatives fit in the existing plan.

They could ask, “What programs should we drop to add the interests you want to promote?”

One expects an incoming president to have priorities. They should be discussed with staff and officers before the inauguration to avoid surprises. Adjustments can be made to integrate a few priorities into an existing program of work.

Success in an organization is advancement of what was promoted to the members in a strategic plan. Members expect to see consistent progress and priorities. Announcing the personal interests of a new officer can be detrimental.