When an organization is facing a leadership change, it is at a crossroad. Down one path is a successful future. Down the other dangers lurk. An organization at this juncture can either excel as the staff and board embrace change and work toward a bright new future or falter when the new leader struggles to get his or her stride.
As nonprofit boards respond to a leadership change, they need time to find the right candidate. The problem is, most nonprofit boards are composed of successful – and busy – volunteers who do not have the time the organization truly needs for this succession process.
Staff need time to grieve and adjust to a new normal. They will need to determine how (or if) they will fit in under the new leader’s management style and vision.
High functioning boards will wisely focus on a three-phase process for replacing their exiting leader. (1) Long before the leader announces their exit, the board should be thinking of succession, not just for the CEO but for all key staff and processes. (2) After the announcement, the board or a search committee will plan the time it will take to identify and on-board their new CEO. (3) Finally, the new leader and the board will want to be very intentional about helping the entire organization – staff, volunteers, funders, constituents – prepare for a new future.
If you serve on a nonprofit board and want to explore these organizational issues, we can help.