Do You Have a Plan for Chapter Leader Succession?

By Betty Purkey-Huck, Rocky Mountain Regional Leader and Chair of DFW’s Chapter Health and Retention Committee

You just found out that your spouse/partner is being transferred to another city and you are moving. Your first thought isn’t about your DFW chapter and it shouldn’t be, but what is going to happen to your chapter when you move?

Many things can happen to a Chapter Leader that make it impossible to continue to lead the chapter. She/he may have health problems, her/his parents or children may need special care, she/he may have had an accident, or she/he may be moving – so many different things. So what happens to a chapter in that case? Hopefully, the Chapter Leader has thought ahead and has made plans. It is important to think about how to ensure that the chapter will remain strong and vibrant in case something does happen.

Even if none of the above events happen, at some point a Chapter Leader may decide to step down. It is never too early to think about succession planning and who the future leader(s) might be. The Co-Leader, if there is one, would be the logical choice, but she/he may not want to be the Chapter Leader. A discussion in a chapter meeting with all the members would be a good place to start. You may find that there are members who would be willing to step up to the job in the future.

Having a Co-Leader is a wise step when setting up chapter leadership. It helps divide the responsibility and typically provides a backup to the leader. Our experience has shown that chapters with a Co-Leader are more likely to thrive long-term. As a Chapter Leader you can help prepare your members for the job of leader by asking them to accept responsibilities like being a presenter, a host, handling the finances, sending out the meeting invitations or other chapter communications. This also builds a stronger commitment to the chapter and organization.

Many chapters are disbanded because the Chapter Leader leaves and no plans have been made for a replacement. In fact, losing a Chapter Leader is the most common reason chapters close. Don’t let that happen to your chapter. Your chapter can remain strong and vibrant and be active for a long time with a little planning.