Don’t Let This Happen: Bungled Leadership Transition Cripples Incoming Board of Directors, Operation of Local League
At Little League® International in Williamsport, Pa., and at our Regional Offices, calls and emails come in all year long about different situations that are happening at some of our 7,000 local leagues. Many of these calls and emails inform us of some very positive initiatives spearheaded by our millions of volunteers. However, there are also negative situations.
“Don’t Let This Happen to Your League” details a real-world scenario, how it has impacted a league, and how you might learn from it.
The names have been omitted in the following scenario, but the situation is real.
The local Little League’s tournament season ended in late July. In the weeks leading into September, the current League President, along with several of the sitting board members, decided to step down after several years of service to the league. Those remaining members, many of whom did not hold seats on any committees, or have a full understanding of the league’s operation, are left to manage the transition to a new Board of Directors. The retirement of the experienced members was not contentious, but the hierarchy of the league was not overtly transparent with the “paper trail” of documents, including its player and volunteer registration, fiscal ledgers, and other financial and sponsor-related documentation. Furthermore, the current leadership failed to proactively communicate with the new League President and elected officers, leading to an inefficient transfer of information and authority.
The result was confusion regarding the overall election procedures, including the definition of membership, nomination of potential Board members, selection of the new League President and officers, and the transference of operational materials to the new leadership. The organizational disarray took weeks to clear up, as the election was challenged by other parents in the league and required the District Administrator and regional staff to get involved. The delay effected the league’s operational calendar, and impacted its ability to fundraise, recruit volunteers and sponsors, and budget for needed facility improvements.
Add language into the local league bylaws that clearly outlines the process and method for transition of leadership, beginning with a commitment deadline for current Board members to declare their intentions to return or retire for the coming league year. In doing so, if the League President, and any, or all, of those individuals holding the position of committee chairperson, state that they do NOT intend to retain their seats on the Board of Directors for the next Little League season, then by a date, no later than one month prior to the election of new officers, they must turn over all recorded meeting minutes and related documents to the current League Secretary. It is the responsibility of the Secretary to hold those documents until said time that the new League President is elected. The Secretary will deliver the documentation to the league president for distribution to the new committee chairs as directed by the league’s constitution and bylaws. It is the responsibility of the outgoing League President to assure that all documents and materials related to the operation of the league are provided to the current league secretary, and subsequently delivered in a timely fashion to the incoming League President. At no time, should any operational item, document, or other business-related material be withheld from the new Board of Directors, regardless of any personal feelings, or conflicts a member(s) of the outgoing Board may have with any new Board member, including the newly elected League President. If necessary, enlist the District Administrator to assist with the transition, especially related to the dissemination of operational documentation; and to help ensure that the league’s operation will not be negatively impacted.