When a leader leaves an organization, do they fall off your radar? For many organizations, the answer is yes. Not keeping former leaders informed is a missed opportunity for them to serve as a continuing ambassador for your organization. Worse yet, former leaders have access to many communication platforms and have increasingly used them to speak out against efforts the organization is trying to advance.
Former school board members have used the status of their previous positions to give credibility to their personal views about a bond referendum. Former military officers lobbied Congress against proposed cuts, again using their former role to provide greater weight to their message. Previous presidents have spoken out to address issues, relying on their past office to lend prestige to the communication.
The former leaders are seen as having a greater understanding of the topic, and as such can be influential voices. That works well if they are well-informed but can cause problems if they are speaking without any current knowledge and their mere opinion is heard as if they still possess intimate insight.
If your organization is in the news, plan to keep former leaders abreast of the situation so they speak the facts if they choose to express their views publicly. Lining up a few “formers” to be your advocates can also help your cause. While they shouldn’t have more credibility than current leaders, for many they do. Mobilize your “formers” to advance your future.