Leadership Transition Is a Process Not a Transaction

This post is authored by Steven W. Pflantz, president of ISA 2017.

The conclusion of ISA’s annual Fall Leader’s Meeting tends to signal that the end of the year is approaching and it’s time to begin preparing for a new one.

At ISA, an important part of preparing for a new year is preparing for leadership transition. Each year, numerous Society leaders fulfill their leadership obligations and a new group of leaders are welcomed in to serve in these roles.

Leadership transition need not be problematic—either for the individuals or for the association at large. If thoughtfully planned and implemented, it can preserve the best of what is in place and open a path to new ways of thinking and improved results. It can help organizations grow and adapt and meet new challenges with imagination and enthusiasm.

With all that being said, though, it takes some effort and consideration to do it right. We’ve all experienced situations within ISA where leadership role transitions weren’t handled as well as they could have been or should have been. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fallen short in this area before.

Too often, the change in leadership is too abrupt. It occurs too frequently as a “handoff”—when it should be implemented in a deliberate, thoughtful manner—a true transition. This way, information, insights and experiences are shared. Questions are answered. Expectations are met.

So treat the leadership changeover as a process and not a transaction. Take the time to orient the new leader through a series of conversations or meetings. Furnish some written suggestions or reminders. Sure, there will be something you’ll invariably miss, but it’s a great start. You’ll be doing what you can to help your fellow ISA succeed and, in the process, build on the positive momentum you’ve created.

After all, the demands of change—both in the marketplace and within the boundaries of ISA—are difficult enough. By effectively transitioning your ISA leadership role, you can make a real, direct and tangible difference in helping ISA move forward and more quickly address the challenges before it.

I encourage us all to work together to maintain some continuity and keep the Society focused on achieving its critical objectives. If we work as a team and engage our successors early, we’re sure to keep the positive energy going.

Given that many positions are in transition, I want to again thank those who have given so much of their time and talents during 2017. I also want to sincerely thank those who are coming in to fill new roles. ISA is sure to benefit from your dedication and skills in the new year.

Without the contributions of our members, we would not be able to function. You are our most important asset.  Keep up the great work.

About the Author

Steven W. Pflantz, PE, is an associate in the St. Louis, Mo. office of CRB Consulting Engineers, Inc., a global consulting, design and construction services firm. He serves as a technical leader on many of CRB’s electrical and automation design projects, applying his extensive electrical engineering experience — particularly in the areas of instrumentation and controls. A longtime ISA member and leader, Steven brings to his role as Society president a deep understanding of the automation profession, the needs and expectations of ISA members, and the value and significance of automation careers. In 2012 and 2013, he served as vice president of ISA’s Professional Development Department. He’s also served on ISA’s Executive Board (2008 and 2012) and as an ISA district vice president (2007 and 2008). In 2012, Steven was inducted into the Academy of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He’s also a member of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE). He earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
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A version of this article also has been published at ISA Insights.

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