We strongly encourage each Michigan Ross alumni club to create a succession plan for leadership turnover.
This could take the form of:
- A plan for fixed-term elections.
- A plan for annually soliciting leadership nominations for open officer roles and approving them through the leadership board.
- Having specific positions on the board for rising leadership, such as a President-elect role or co-Chair position that one must hold for one year while being mentored by the present office-holder before the new appointee takes responsibility as primary Chair.
- A staggered term length cycle in which different officers transition on and off the board during different years, to ensure some leadership continuity.
For example, a club might create a succession plan in which the President role transitions on/off the board on even years, the Vice President role transitions on/off on odd years, and the Treasurer position is a long-term one that remains the same through multiple President/Vice President transition cycles.
Building Your Leadership Team
When building a leadership team, it’s important to weigh the strengths of each potential team member and ensure that they complement, rather than replicate, each other, as well as your own. Consider not only personality and leadership style but also diversity in Michigan Ross graduation year, gender, age, industry, and experience.
In particular, it often helps to have alumni representatives from more than one Michigan Ross degree program on your board to ensure no (sometimes large) educational constituency is forgotten or excluded from offered events. Degrees Ross has offered over the years include:
- Full-time, Weekend, Evening, and Executive MBAs
- Master of Accounting
- Master of Management
- Master of Supply Chain Management
- Master of Entrepreneurship
Club President Spotlight: A Rationalization for Setting Officer Term Lengths
Why make this effort, especially if no one on your leadership team has recently expressed plans to leave their role?
Branton Cole, Alumni Board of Governor member and outgoing President of the Michigan Ross Alumni Club of Denver, succinctly explained why, in Spring 2018, he decided to steer the Denver club toward a board election process:
“We are moving towards a formal board election process for a couple of our positions, including club president. Here are a few reasons:
- I want to have a fair and transparent process that gives more than a limited group of folks a chance to take the lead. In the past, it was a who-knew-who that was slotted for roles, and I want to avoid the reality or perception of nepotism through a process that is frequent, open to all, and understood by all.
- We want to inject new blood regularly into the board. When some clubs do not turn over the president role for a very long time, I think it can create a barrier to volunteerism and even some friction because there are others who want to take a leading role and help shape the club.
- It creates good optics to the broader regional alumni base that we refresh our board regularly, and it gives them a formal way of getting involved in one of these two positions or joining the board as an at-large member.
- Specific to Denver, the time is right to test this election structure since I am not going anywhere and can help pilot the transition process so it can become repeatable in the future. Although I have a great board, this move guarantees that we have at least one more person driving efforts to share the load too.
As I shared with the Denver board, if no one runs, I will gladly stay in the role, but I think there are a couple of interested folks. Assuming we have a new person in place, I plan to play a big role and help it continue to grow and succeed well into the future. One of my goals when I started the club, was to create something sustainable and I will help the club do that in whatever capacity I can.”