Don’t Leap To A New Leader!


Published on

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.

Published in: Business
1 Comment
  • Did you find this presentation helpful and would like to see more of our sessions? Feel free to register for any of our upcoming NonprofitWebinars sessions here:

    Also, we invite you to watch the video for this session here:
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Don’t Leap To A New Leader!

  1. 1. Don’t Leap To A New Leader! Chris DameUse Twitter Hashtag #npweb Special Thanks To Our Sponsors
  2. 2. Helping ordinary people raise extraordinary amounts for nonprofits is all we do, and we love it. A Proud Sponsor of
  3. 3. Today’s Speaker Chris Dame President and Founder, Non-Profit Transitions Hosting: Sam Frank, Synthesis Partnership Assisting with chat questions: April Hunt, Nonprofit Webinars
  4. 4. Using Leadership Transition to Improve Your NonprofitBeyond the Search Consultant © NPT LLC
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. Leadership Transition is like climbing a mountain•Need Map•Need Guide•Need Tools•Need Teamwork•Need Plan•Need Luck © NPT LLC
  7. 7. Why is Leadership Transition Time Important © NPT LLC
  8. 8. All nonprofits experience leadership change • Voluntary • Involuntary • Choice = drift or advancement © NPT LLC
  9. 9. Special Challenges• Founders & long term leaders • Confusion – leader w. mission • Emperor’s Syndrome• Fired Leaders • Recovery – focus on mission • Attention to deficits © NPT LLC
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. Executive Leadership is needed EVEN during transition ESPECIALLY during transition © NPT LLC
  13. 13. Interim periods stress every organization Staff Board Stakeholders © NPT LLC
  14. 14. The Board is busyFocused on future & leadershipOperations = distractionTransition influences future © NPT LLC
  15. 15. Transition Period ≠ Stagnation• Assessment• Introduce change• Strengthen Leadership• Build the Base• Look to Future © NPT LLC
  16. 16. Search Consultant is NOT enough• Focus = Build Bright Future• Untouched: Daily Operations Organizational Changes Middle Management Leadership• Relationship = Board only © NPT LLC
  17. 17. Smart Nonprofits seek newINSIGHTS during transitions © NPT LLC
  18. 18. 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
  19. 19. 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
  20. 20. Kinds of transitions © NPT LLC
  21. 21. Planned– Retirement– ED Promotion: Gradual transition to new job– Merger & consolidation of 2 agencies © NPT LLC
  22. 22. Unplanned– Death of ED– ED involuntary sudden departure (Firing/Forced resignation)– ED’s voluntary rapid departure (greener pastures) © NPT LLC
  23. 23. 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
  24. 24. William Bridges - ManagingTransitions: Making the Most of Change (2nd ed. Da Capo Press, 2003) © NPT LLC
  25. 25. 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
  26. 26. 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
  27. 27. So What’s Needed?• Change leader – wilderness guide• Challenge to GROW• Caring, not caretaking © NPT LLC
  28. 28. How long is transition? • Depends • Matches search process • Six months © NPT LLC
  29. 29. 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
  30. 30. What Makes Effective Interim Leader? • Objectivity • Flexibility • Judgment • Future focus • Thick skin • Humility © NPT LLC
  31. 31. Objectivity See things as they are, not how peoplewant to describe them Speak truth to power © NPT LLC
  32. 32. FlexibilityFast learnerOvercome roadblocks © NPT LLC
  33. 33. JudgementHow much change?How fast to change? © NPT LLC
  34. 34. Future focus: 3 “E’s” Excitement Energy Enthusiasm © NPT LLC
  35. 35. Thick skinAnger focusSlings and arrows © NPT LLC
  36. 36. HumilitySelf effacingSay “Good-bye”Stay away © NPT LLC
  37. 37. Who Should Be the Interim Leader? © NPT LLC
  38. 38. 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
  39. 39. 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
  40. 40. 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
  41. 41. 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
  42. 42. Professional IED– Cons: • An unfamiliar role to Staff Board Stakeholders/clients • Can be more costly © NPT LLC
  43. 43. What Does Interim Leader Do © NPT LLC
  44. 44. Leader & CEOTheme maker – what are we about?Operator, hands-on – attend to businessMovement agent - keep organizationmoving forwardTroubleshooter - meet problems thatcome up © NPT LLC
  45. 45. 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
  46. 46. 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
  47. 47. 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
  48. 48. 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
  49. 49. 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
  50. 50. Mentor/advisor– Advise Board on impacts to search– Prepare the Board – set expectations– Brief the new permanent leader– Be available for consultation © NPT LLC
  51. 51. 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
  52. 52. IED’s Challenge - “H-E-L-P” “H-• Honor the Past• Examine the present• Look for (reasonable) change• Plan for the future © NPT LLC
  53. 53. H = Honor the Past © NPT LLC
  54. 54. 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
  55. 55. 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
  56. 56. 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
  57. 57. E = Examine the Present © NPT LLC
  58. 58. 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
  59. 59. 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
  60. 60. 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
  61. 61. 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
  62. 62. L = Look for Reasonable Change © NPT LLC
  63. 63. Ask questions like• Old skeletons needing attention• Staffing changes needed TODAY• Financial operations improvements• Stakeholder relationships - sound © NPT LLC
  64. 64. P = Plan for the Future © NPT LLC
  65. 65. 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
  66. 66. Take Action to• Crystallize Staff view of future – Briefing book – Dreams• Clarify Mission Impact of change – Focus for new ED – Board considerations © NPT LLC
  67. 67. 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
  68. 68. THE END © NPT LLC
  69. 69. Find the listings for our current season of webinars and register at Chris Dumas 707-812-1234 Special Thanks To Our Sponsors