Passing the Leadership Torch: Moving Beyond Just a Smooth Transition

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The embrace was genuine. The tears were real. The bond, authentic.

The moment occurred in the fall of 2008 in a Kelowna, BC restaurant, when John Baergen, the founder of The Leadership Centre Willow Creek Canada, told me that after a 17 year run, he felt it was time to pass the torch of leadership to someone else. He asked if I would allow him to recommend me to the board of directors.

We resolved then and there that this leadership transition would go beyond being merely smooth; we would aim for great by seeking ways to bless one-another. We wanted a Moses to Joshua transition.

Here’s how we have lived this out over the past year:

  1. We have intentionally looked for ways to help each other succeed.
    Knowing the projects in which John is now involved, I have gone out of my way to look for resources that might be of interest to him, and he has done the same for me.

  2. We have maintained regular communication.
    Every Wednesday morning we have connected with a standing appointment at a local Tim Horton’s. This hour has been a regular highlight of my week.

  3. We have publicly affirmed each other.
    At every opportunity we have blessed each other in public settings. I have profiled John at The Leadership Summit, and he has built bridges for me into his relational world.

Bottom line? If you’re involved in a leadership transition, don’t aim for a transition that’s merely smooth; shoot for one that’s great.

In practical terms, what would this look like for you?

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