Charles Wilt, ALCTS Executive Director
A topic that has been in the association management literature for some time now is "succession management." You might first think that this is a topic that would be of interest primarily to an association staff. That might be true, but maybe not for the reason you imagine.
Having a smooth transition in staff, if needed, is an ideal situation. It just happens that the ALCTS Office is looking at this issue this very year. We are taking time to do so not because of some impending resignation or transfer, but rather to evaluate what each of us does, how our jobs overlap, how our jobs have changed over the last two years, and how we can better document what we do. The end product, next August, will be a detailed assessment of our office operations.
So why is succession management also an important issue for you, the member? Succession management is important for every appointing officer who is looking to replace a committee chair; for a committee chair appointing a task force; for any member who wants to work his or her way through the organization, maybe eventually serving on the Board of Directors; for every Nominating Committee searching for candidates; and for ALCTS as an organization just to keep moving forward.
Succession management is foremost (at least in the association management literature) the formulation of a plan to ensure that the association has the quality leadership it needs to sustain itself over a long term. This includes identifying promising and potential leaders, developing their interests, and providing them the opportunities to serve. This doesn't mean that everyone needs to be groomed to be ALCTS President. ALCTS needs and depends on people who can move ALCTS forward at the section level, at the CRG level, and at the division committee level. It needs dedicated people who build up a resume of solid service and who are recognized as individuals who can move the work along. Much of this work happens below the Board level. What it does mean, though, is that current leaders begin to move potential leaders into positions in which they can learn, study, be mentored, and are then prepared for the leadership roles they are given.
Succession management requires careful and thoughtful planning. Succession management requires that leaders reflect on who is ready to serve in their stead ahead of time. Succession management assures that the good initiatives and the good work already begun will continue.