If we think of transition as a process in which a stranger becomes recognized as a member of the institution’s culture and established in a highly respected role in the community, it is clear that a successful outcome is neither automatic nor instantaneous. Effective transitions must be intentional, ensuring that specific steps are taken to produce the desired outcome. In our experience, intentional transition is particularly effective when the successful president was an internal candidate.
A~MA created our presidential transition management plan in 1992, while engaged in a presidential search in higher education. We developed transition management to maximize an individual’s integration into a new institution and an institution’s welcome to that leader. We were retained to conduct a presidential search where the retiring president had served in an institution’s administration for a total of 46 years – a situation whose likely outcome was destined to result in a brief, transitional presidency.
We formed a transition team, chaired by a trustee search committee member, which was comprised of faculty members, campus leaders, vice presidents, and most importantly, the retiring president. Prior to the new president’s start date, the team planned monthly campus visits that included the departing president visibly welcoming her and introducing her to trustees and key donors.
Some six weeks after the new president took office, an issue arose that could have derailed the president. Instead, as she noted to us, “Because the faculty and I had built trust during the transition period, we made it work.”
Selected Transition Consulting Projects
- A small, private, liberal arts college in a major metropolitan area is currently in a year-long presidential transition – the trustees, departing president, faculty, staff, students and senior administration are all engaged in a transformative journey.
- A new Chancellor worked with an A~MA coach during the search process, through negotiation and transition, she noted,
“The value of Nancy’s career coaching is felt both in the moments of our conversations and times later during dynamic decision making on the job, when what you decide makes a big difference. Having her as the right coach enhances so many aspects of my effectiveness as a leader.”