I met with a group of student leaders last week. The group was mostly made up of Class Council members who were coming to the end of their leadership positions. At this point in the academic year, schools are working through the election and selection process of student leaders for next year. That put all of these students in a kind of “lame duck” season.
As I spoke with them, my encouragement came in the form of a challenge to “do the things a leader does” one last time. While they may not have engaged in leadership, even though they were in a leadership position, they had one more opportunity. I know that some of them only served in their position as a student worker: they accomplished the necessary tasks and got things done. My hope was that they would finish the year off in some way as a student leader: influencing and guiding people. I challenged them to influence their legacy – find someone who could take their place and invest in them.
You see, that’s the leader’s last chance to influence the organization. Once the leader leaves it’s over…unless that person has taken the time to leave a lasting legacy. My encouragement was for them to leave a legacy in the one who would follow after them.
Legacy is a funny thing. The legacy you leave as a leader is not for you (even though it’s created by you). It’s for those who remain after you’re gone.
So here’s what I encouraged them to do…
1. Identify someone else who has the potential to be a leader.
That person may or may not recognize this potential within him or herself. But these students had some influence because of the position they were in to encourage someone. They could point to the possibility in someone else’s life.
2. Help them learn from your own experience.
They have a year of experience in the position. They have a pretty good idea of what it takes to be successful. Now it’s time to pass that information on to someone else. I want these current student leaders to understand that their chapter in the story has an impact and connection to the next chapter. They will help or hinder the next person by their investment.
3. Finish strong.
The best gift an outgoing student leader can give to the next person is to finish strong. This creates a sense of momentum and excitement that will carry over into the next year. If a current student leader leaves early or fails to finish, it will cause extra work for the next person. My hope is that the current student leader will leave the position better than he or she found it.
If you’d like to read more about raising your level of influence during this time of transition, I recommend the following three articles I’ve written over at studentlinc: