Leadership Students

Presidential Handoff

What does one president say to the next president when passing the baton of leadership? Recently I stumbled upon an actual letter from an outgoing president. His advice is worth considering.

“Dear Mr. President-elect! Congratulations on your victory! I am glad that you won. Here are five practices I found helpful to keep in mind while leading.

Being President
I really don’t have to tell you a lot – you saw what I did throughout the year.

  • Be a leader
    • Take the initiative to make things happen
    • Set goals for the year – and connect them to your mission statement.
    • Make sure that all of the stuff you and your team do meets with a standard that is acceptable to God and to the administration.
  • Use your resources
    • Know your people’s talents and make use of them. If you need to bring in people from the outside, do it!
    • Never be afraid to talk to Mr. E or Mr. F – I talked to them at least once a week for the entire year, just updating them and asking for advice. This semester I talked to one of them almost every day.
  • Delegate to responsible people
    • If you (or just the team of officers) try to do everything yourself, you will die – so delegate.
    • Get to know who will get things done and get them to help you out – tell them exactly what you want, give them clear (preferably written) directions, and give them a deadline.
    • Of course, you should supervise closely those who are not as responsible and give more freedom to those more reliable.
  • Be on top of information
    • This is one of the MOST IMPORTANT points.
    • You should be the one initiating events and you should know everything that needs to be done at any given time – you should always have the most updated information.
    • Ask the right questions. In planning, the most important thing is to ask, “What still needs to be done?” Put careful thought into this.
    • Having the right information (and maybe some advice and outside opinions) is the key to making good decisions.
  • Set an example
    • People should look up to you as a leader.
    • You should do everything that you ask your team to do.
    • If you are lazy and forgetful, others will start to slack off (not that I am worried about that – you’ll do great I’m sure).”

Final Thoughts
“I have found that the best way to get things done is to get a lot of people involved and motivate them to do the work. Do what is right first and foremost. If it is really a decision that has no right or wrong choice, go with the majority opinion – you were, after all, elected by the majority and it is your job to serve them, even if you want it another way. Of course, there is a lot more involved – but that is your job to come up with. You said you want to have better communication with the students – great! I look forward to hearing about how you are an awesome president! Way to be a leader! “

Travis Cochrum
Outgoing Student Council President
International Community School, Singapore
May 2007

Well done, Travis! It’s been a joy to watch you learn, grow and lead well this year. Love, Dad

Lesson for us: 17-year olds can teach us some very practical lessons in solid leadership, if we’ll listen.

By Ken

Dr. Ken Cochrum (DMin, Bethel University) is Vice President of Global Digital Strategies at Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) in Orlando, Florida. An avid cyclist and aspiring guitarist, he also holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas and a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He recently co-founded, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies. He previously served as vice president of Cru’s student-led movements worldwide. He and his wife Ann spent 13 years in East Asia where they raised their two children. Ken blogs regularly at

2 replies on “Presidential Handoff”

What excellent solid advice from a young leader! At twice Travis’ age, I still need to learn to better do many of those things. It makes me think again of John 13:17, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” I am sure Travis has many blessing ahead of him. I’ll have to let him know that before you guys take off on Friday!

Ah, I see what happened here. My husband left a comment on this post, possibly not realizing it would show up as me. I didn’t write the original comment, but I’ll add my two cents. It’s an impressive letter! Travis is destined for great things. How could he not be given who his parents are? We’ll miss you all so much.

The real Gina

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.