It starts as an idea, an impulse, a well-placed suggestion.
There is a leadership position that you begin to consider. Someone may have approached you and recognized that you’d be good at it. Maybe you have had your eye on it for some time. Whatever the situation, the opportunity is before you and you have made a decision to go for it. Inherent in that decision are two key "anticipation" questions:
Can I do it? – this addresses your abilities. Are you capable of accomplishing the tasks of the position? Can you maintain balance in the midst of your other commitments?
Will I do it? – this addresses your attitudes. How do you feel about being in this position for the next year? How will you approach this position?
Most students fill leadership positions in one of two ways, they are either selected or elected. Whichever way you were placed into yours, it speaks highly of your capabilities and the kind of person that you are.
Prior to being placed in a position, you begin the process of envisioning what it will be like, what kinds of things you will be responsible for, what changes you would make, what kinds of things you will do to improve.
Key Characteristics of the Anticipation Season
- A high level of energy and optimism for the student leader position. It is very affirming when one is elected/selected to serve in a student leader position. Excitement for the following year grabs hold. This energy and excitement exist alongside those who currently hold the student leadership position and are moving closer to the separation season. It is a bittersweet balance. What has frustrated the outgoing student leader is seen as a welcome challenge to the incoming student leader.
- A sense of vision for the possibilities that the student leader posiiton holds. It is important to get some sense of the Big Picture for the year. Once the year begins and you move into the implementation season, you will begin to live day-to-day. It is easy to lose sight of one's overarching vision. This season is the best time to form a vision that can carry you through all the other seasons.
- An excitement to work with the other student leaders during the upcoming year.
- A realigning of priorities to include time and resource for the student leader position.
- A varying level of wariness over one's ability to fulfill the duties of the student leadership position. In the midst of the excitement, one may be a bit apprehensive about one's capabilities because of the newness and unknowns about the student leader position. This typically happens when a student leader moves past the initial celebration of being elected/selected and begins to take seriously the responsibility of the student leader position.
- The student leader begins to learn, train, and get better equipped to succeed in the position.
- Hopefully, the student leader spends time with the outgoing student leader whom he or she is replacing. I say hopefully, because this may not happen. One of the key characteristics of the separation season is the time that an outgoing student leader spends investing and equipping the incoming student leader.
It is important to realize that each season effects the one that follows. The Separation Season for the outgoing student leader will play a key role in the Anticipation Season of the incoming student leader. This interaction between the outgoing and incoming student leaders is vital(See related article on this topic here). It is also true that the work done during the Anticipation Season will have a direct impact on the how well you get moving in the Implementation Season.
In order for the incoming student leader to get the most out of the Anticipation Season, he or she should:
- Develop relationships with key people.
This would be your advisor, other student leaders that you will work with, and other people with whom you'll interact. I would caution a student leader from building relationships with people solely based on the requirements of one's position. People will feel used if they think that you always need something from them. But rather, embrace these relationships as an important way that you can learn something from each individual and look for ways to add value to their lives.
- Learn the systems that are in place for your student leader position.
Find out what they chain of command is and how to properly follow it. Learn about the budget processes and how you can request money. Are there certain procedures to plan an event, put it on a calendar, reserve space on your campus? How often should you conduct meetings, attend meetings? What forms or paperwork does your position require you to use? If you plan on implementing some kind of change, especially in an area where there is some type of tradition, what are the proper channels, people that you must go through to make it happen?
- Look for training opportunities that will better prepare you for your student leader position.
Hopefully, your organization will spend time equipping you to be able to hit the ground running. But there are things that you can do on your own as well. Spend time with previous student leaders who have held your position. Look for books, articles, and online resources that will help to enhance your leadership skills. Approach your position with an open mind and a teachable spirit. Talk to students from other organizations.
The key to a healthy transition into the next season will be in how well you plan out your year and begin to work with people and accomplish your responsibilities. Once you have taken some time to get familiar with your new responsibility, it’s time to get to work and enter the Implementation Season.