This morning I received the latest issue of Leadership Guide, the email newsletter from TransitionGuides in Silver Spring, MD. Their areas of expertise are succession planning and leadership transitions for nonprofits. The newsletter featured profiles of three nonprofit executives who had successfully navigated the complex and often emotion-laden process of moving on from a beloved organization…especially when they are the founder!
I was especially struck by a consistent point found in two of the stories – the concept of “getting out of the way.” Both leaders suggested that founders must make a special and focused effort to move on and, in effect, step out of the way of the organization’s progress and evolution. Whether they’re hampered by a sense of guilt imposed on them by board and other staff members, or by their own sense that the organization could simply never make it without them, founders can actually be doing harm to their nonprofit by staying too long and not moving on. It’s a challenging process to be sure, but it is essential to keep the best needs of the organization at heart and to keep looking forward.
Among the many resources offered by TransitionGuides is their popular Next Steps Workshop. Their next event Next Steps Workshop: Succession and Sustainability Planning will be held in Washington, DC September 13-14, 2010.
I have many times seen how critical it can be for an organization to have a solid succession plan in place.
As a member of the selection committee for the Washington Post Awards for Excellence in Nonprofit Management, I have many times seen how critical it can be for an organization to have a solid succession plan in place. Organizations that have done well over the years with this award process have all exhibited an openness to explore the challenges and opportunities inherent in leadership transition. They give their chief executives time and permission to take advantage of resources like the Next Steps workshop. And from my viewpoint, it’s made them all much stronger and better able to sustain strong leadership across the entire organization.