You may have a rock-star leader, but you have no replacement in the wings.
After 40 years of nonprofit executive leadership, I believe more strongly than ever that it is always about leadership! Whether you agree or not with this statement, I dare say that, at the very least, your organization depends heavily on the effective leadership of its CEO. It doesn’t matter if your organization has revenues of $500 thousand or $500 million; the person at the helm has the responsibility for making sure the organization’s mission is being fulfilled and that the organization is sustainable into the future.
For more than a decade it has been generally recognized that there is a shortage of emerging leaders in the nonprofit social service world to take the place of those baby boomer giants who grew their agencies to unprecedented heights of service. We are in the midst of a tidal wave of retirements and competition for the next generation of executive leaders is fierce.
Is your organization positioned to effectively hand the mantle of leadership over to the next CEO? If you lost your CEO today, do you have the plans and procedures in place to make sure that the services provided by your organization continue without interruption or diminution of quality? Do you have an interim CEO identified who is qualified and willing to assume the responsibilities for the short term? If not, do you have professional consulting services lined up that offer interim executive leadership? Do you have policies and programs of professional leadership development in place so you have a healthy stable of internal candidates? Do you have professional counsel engaged that can guide your organization through the shoals of conducting a CEO search on short notice? Do you have succession plans in place for all second tier executives so that bench strength is present in all functional areas? Does your board have a firm grasp of the alignment that is necessary between the strategic vision of the organization and the skills and attributes of the CEO they would expect to achieve that vision? Finally, have you developed communication and contingency strategies for all possible scenarios including retirement, resignation, termination, incapacitation or death?
Having served as a board chairman of a large nonprofit organization and the CEO of a national service provider, I know what it takes to develop and implement an effective CEO succession plan. I also am experienced at infusing those same processes into the C-suite of executives to build internal bench strength in all primary functional areas. There are many components to such plans, not the least of which is regular organizational assessment, strategic planning within an annual cycle, and professional development of emerging leaders.
If you are concerned about the future leadership of your organization and wish to discuss the steps you can take now to avoid a leadership challenge, I would love to share my experience at no charge or obligation. Where the conversation would lead is entirely up to you. I would love to explore ways in which I might be of service to your organization to make sure that you are being led by the best available CEO. And if you are facing an emergency situation due to an unplanned CEO departure, I am also available to bring my years of CEO experience to your service through an interim contract.
Who's Going To Be Your Next Leader?