• leadership,  succession,  team building,  values

    Five Lessons on Leadership

    I served as the executive director of a fine nonprofit organization for 13 years and recently retired. (See my bio here.) I put my heart and my soul into the work. It became my identity, my quest, and my passion. I believe (ok, I know!) we did some pretty good things in those 13 years. But that is not the point of this post.  The point is the many good things that happened in the last month as I said goodbye that provide important lessons for leadership. So many people sent me inspiring notes or said nice things about me and to me during this time. They said what I…

  • board development,  executive successions,  succession,  transitions

    Why is succession planning so hard?

    Today’s nonprofit organizations are facing a brain drain that is unprecedented in modern society. Curtis R. Welling and John H. Vogel Jr. note that “for small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations, the average term for an executive director or CEO is about six years.” (The Nonprofit Quarterly, May 21, 2017) A 2006 CompassPoint/Meyer Foundation study  concluded that 10% to 15% of nonprofit organizations hire a new executive every year and that between 60% to 75% of nonprofit executive directors had a plan to leave their position within the next five years. It may surprise you to learn that a six month gap between an executive director leaving and a new leader…

  • board development,  executive successions,  strategy,  succession,  transitions

    Organizations at a Crossroads

    When an organization is facing a leadership change, it is at a crossroads. 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…

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