Don’t Leap To A New Leader!
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Don’t Leap To A New Leader!



Funders and nonprofits alike are increasingly aware from published research and documented experience that the period after the departure of one leader and before the arrival of the next is too ...

Funders and nonprofits alike are increasingly aware from published research and documented experience that the period after the departure of one leader and before the arrival of the next is too valuable to waste “standing still” in a holding action. This webinar will discuss the factors that every nonprofit needs to examine during the transition period – respecting the past, examining the present, and planning for the future, in order to complement the role of the Executive Search Consultant and prepare the way for a truly exciting next chapter in the life of the organization.



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Don’t Leap To A New Leader! Don’t Leap To A New Leader! Presentation Transcript

  • Don’t Leap To A New Leader! Chris DameUse Twitter Hashtag #npweb Special Thanks To Our Sponsors
  • Helping ordinary people raise extraordinary amounts for nonprofits is all we do, and we love it. A Proud Sponsor of
  • Today’s Speaker Chris Dame President and Founder, Non-Profit Transitions Hosting: Sam Frank, Synthesis Partnership Assisting with chat questions: April Hunt, Nonprofit Webinars
  • Using Leadership Transition to Improve Your NonprofitBeyond the Search Consultant © NPT LLC
  • Today’s Webinar is about• Making Transition Time more effective• Improve ED Hiring• Prepare for future success• Improve Board’s understanding of Leadership Needs• Create excitement - next chapter• Help new ED - “taking care of business” © NPT LLC
  • Leadership Transition is like climbing a mountain•Need Map•Need Guide•Need Tools•Need Teamwork•Need Plan•Need Luck © NPT LLC
  • Why is Leadership Transition Time Important © NPT LLC
  • All nonprofits experience leadership change • Voluntary • Involuntary • Choice = drift or advancement © NPT LLC
  • Special Challenges• Founders & long term leaders • Confusion – leader w. mission • Emperor’s Syndrome• Fired Leaders • Recovery – focus on mission • Attention to deficits © NPT LLC
  • National Studies• Annie E. Casey Foundation• NE Executive Trans. Partnership• Takeaways: – many ED’s leaving soon • ~10%/yr • 66-71% w/i five yrs – Boards need to be ready – Np’s do not mentor well – Weak bench strength – No back up quarterback © NPT LLC
  • Planned transitions are rare• Large number of non-profits (NCCS) – 29 k in MA – 1.5 m in US• Every organization changes leaders © NPT LLC
  • Executive Leadership is needed EVEN during transition ESPECIALLY during transition © NPT LLC
  • Interim periods stress every organization Staff Board Stakeholders © NPT LLC
  • The Board is busyFocused on future & leadershipOperations = distractionTransition influences future © NPT LLC
  • Transition Period ≠ Stagnation• Assessment• Introduce change• Strengthen Leadership• Build the Base• Look to Future © NPT LLC
  • Search Consultant is NOT enough• Focus = Build Bright Future• Untouched: Daily Operations Organizational Changes Middle Management Leadership• Relationship = Board only © NPT LLC
  • Smart Nonprofits seek newINSIGHTS during transitions © NPT LLC
  • Questions at Several Levels:• Board Do we just need another “Harry ” What does the ED job REALLY entail What is OUR mission tomorrow What does that mean for leadership needs How do we attract an exiting new leader © NPT LLC
  • Questions - StaffWho’s in charge?What are we really about?Is this FINALLY time to addressold problems?Who cares about US(the staff)?Is the Board really listening? © NPT LLC
  • Kinds of transitions © NPT LLC
  • Planned– Retirement– ED Promotion: Gradual transition to new job– Merger & consolidation of 2 agencies © NPT LLC
  • Unplanned– Death of ED– ED involuntary sudden departure (Firing/Forced resignation)– ED’s voluntary rapid departure (greener pastures) © NPT LLC
  • Special Case – TheFounder/Emporor Syndrome – Long tenure = difficult transition – Legacy issues – Loyalties (div btw old and new) – Board leadership (can be lacking/old friends) – Legacy threats (perceived and lead to:) – Sabotage © NPT LLC
  • William Bridges - ManagingTransitions: Making the Most of Change (2nd ed. Da Capo Press, 2003) © NPT LLC
  • Bridges says• Old paradigm – Beginning – middle – end• Bridges - Flips – Endings (saying goodbye) leads to – Middle - the neutral zone (unfocused wandering), leads to – Exciting new beginnings © NPT LLC
  • Bridges lessons for nonprofits• people grieve – let them• don’t skip the neutral zone• help staff EXPERIENCE change – THEN get excited about new growth © NPT LLC
  • So What’s Needed?• Change leader – wilderness guide• Challenge to GROW• Caring, not caretaking © NPT LLC
  • How long is transition? • Depends • Matches search process • Six months © NPT LLC
  • Why caretaker is wrong• Caretakers are blind – loyalty to past – protect the status quo• No movement thru Bridges zones• Missed change opportunities• No re-examination of mission & leadership needs• Standstill means to fall back – LaPiana – competition is reality © NPT LLC
  • What Makes Effective Interim Leader? • Objectivity • Flexibility • Judgment • Future focus • Thick skin • Humility © NPT LLC
  • Objectivity See things as they are, not how peoplewant to describe them Speak truth to power © NPT LLC
  • FlexibilityFast learnerOvercome roadblocks © NPT LLC
  • JudgementHow much change?How fast to change? © NPT LLC
  • Future focus: 3 “E’s” Excitement Energy Enthusiasm © NPT LLC
  • Thick skinAnger focusSlings and arrows © NPT LLC
  • HumilitySelf effacingSay “Good-bye”Stay away © NPT LLC
  • Who Should Be the Interim Leader? © NPT LLC
  • 1. Existing employee– Pros: – Knows agency – fast start – Employees know – Reassuring to public – Link to the “golden” past – Link to Board – high trust– Cons: – Temporary promotions stir jealousy – Caretakers become candidates – Peter principle – Retrograde difficult © NPT LLC
  • 2. Board member– Pros: • Quick & easy & maybe cheap • Knows organization (or thinks so) • Keeps leadership team intact • Organization knows him/her (or thinks so) • Good board rapport • strong link to search • high trust level • Continuity to outsiders (appearance) • Familiar with mission © NPT LLC
  • 2. Board member– Cons: • Governance skills ≠ executive skills • Conflict – search vs. operations • Possible Time constraints • Board Power dynamic shifts • Search consultant • Retrograde difficult • new CEO inherits critic & comparison • ED/Board relationship complicated • Unfair comparisons set up © NPT LLC
  • Professional IED– Pros: • Experienced in transition • Deliberate change agent now is different from then change is uncomfortable but good encourage rising expectations • Sets the stage for an empowered ED • Offers new insights to the ED • Reassures stakeholders • Delivers bad news to Board • Makes hard & unpopular decisions © NPT LLC
  • Professional IED– Cons: • An unfamiliar role to Staff Board Stakeholders/clients • Can be more costly © NPT LLC
  • What Does Interim Leader Do © NPT LLC
  • Leader & CEOTheme maker – what are we about?Operator, hands-on – attend to businessMovement agent - keep organizationmoving forwardTroubleshooter - meet problems thatcome up © NPT LLC
  • Counselor & Therapist– Listen to staff tell stories– Avoid he said/she said situations– hold up a vision of the whole • the mission • possibilities for the future • the need for teamwork– Recognize noise as necessary– Meet emotions with confidence & vision © NPT LLC
  • Link or transition figure• between the staff and the Board• between the staff and the search consultant• between the past and present• between the present and the future © NPT LLC
  • Detective:• Why is the organization here – what am I seeing as its needs• What needs am I not seeing – what’s not revealed yet• Where does the organization have to go © NPT LLC
  • Change Agent – ask questions like– What needs to be done TODAY?– What change can wait?– How do I get people excited & moving toward the future?– What do stakeholders need to know about?– What does the new ED need to know? © NPT LLC
  • Whip– Hold people accountable – Be firm - fair & consistent– Move toward performance standards – Align to best practices– Cut the “fat’ – If you don’t do it NOW the new ED will have blood on his/her hands © NPT LLC
  • Mentor/advisor– Advise Board on impacts to search– Prepare the Board – set expectations– Brief the new permanent leader– Be available for consultation © NPT LLC
  • What the IED is NOT!• Miracle worker Financial expert Instant fund raising resource Magnet for funders & regulators• Staff buddy• Disconnected from governance• Substitute for strategic plan © NPT LLC
  • IED’s Challenge - “H-E-L-P” “H-• Honor the Past• Examine the present• Look for (reasonable) change• Plan for the future © NPT LLC
  • H = Honor the Past © NPT LLC
  • Honor the Past• Trash talk is unproductive• Don’t point fingers• Staff know the issues - better• Staff can help or hinder• Attitude set by how they observe others treated – including former staff © NPT LLC
  • Honor the Past• Staff invested in agency’s past• Want their story to positive• Want jobs to have meaning• Bad story demeans their investment © NPT LLC
  • Few basic rules:• Tell at least one good story about past• Help people say goodbye to the past• Link past to present & especially the future• talk up the promises of the future © NPT LLC
  • E = Examine the Present © NPT LLC
  • Examine Mission• Clear mission statement• Reality match rhetoric• Circumstances changed mission• Impact of Leader’s departure• Stakeholders needs & resources• View of mission by: – Outsiders – Staff – Board• Use in ED recruitment © NPT LLC
  • Examine Finance• Paying bills – why not• Collecting revenues – why not• Board fully aware of finances• What elements need change - pace• New revenue sources• Steps needed TODAY © NPT LLC
  • Examine Stakeholder Relations• Organization performing to expectations• Compliance standards met• Stakeholders view OUR future – same – reduced – potentially enlarged• What stakeholder needs NOT met?• Is movement TODAY appropriate © NPT LLC
  • Do Organizational Assessment• Does structure match mission• Are managers equal to positions & funding• Can organization afford current staffing• Changes needed - costs & benefits• Are there legal considerations• Timing for such changes – best early• Complete changes and empower the new ED © NPT LLC
  • L = Look for Reasonable Change © NPT LLC
  • Ask questions like• Old skeletons needing attention• Staffing changes needed TODAY• Financial operations improvements• Stakeholder relationships - sound © NPT LLC
  • P = Plan for the Future © NPT LLC
  • Take Action to• Strengthen Governance – to help new ED• ID important Stakeholder relations for new ED• ID most important challenges for the new ED © NPT LLC
  • Take Action to• Crystallize Staff view of future – Briefing book – Dreams• Clarify Mission Impact of change – Focus for new ED – Board considerations © NPT LLC
  • Conclusion – Remember• All nonprofits change leaders• Interval = opportunity for positive change• Board & the staff need self examination• ACT to make change in the interim• Key = objective interim leadership• Interim Leader should H-E-L-P• Set the stage - bright new chapter © NPT LLC
  • Find the listings for our current season of webinars and register at Chris Dumas 707-812-1234 Special Thanks To Our Sponsors