Nonprofit CEO Roundtables
"I don't plan to lead this organization forever, but if I bring up succession planning with my board chair, he'll think I already have one foot out the door."
"I founded this organization 25 years ago and we've had a compelling mission. Now I am ready to move on. How can I ensure that the organization will survive and thrive when I'm gone? Trying to figure this out keeps me up at night."
In our work with seasoned nonprofit leaders, we know that, for many individuals, thinking about moving on while leaving a legacy can be a source of anxiety. It is difficult to talk publicly about succession because it seems to make board, staff, and key funders apprehensive.
TransitionWorks hosts Nonprofit CEO Roundtables for selected senior executives of leading nonprofit organizations in the Philadelphia Region. These bi-monthly, facilitated meetings provide a confidential setting to spend uninterrupted time to discuss issues and learn about a variety of strategies related to leadership transitions.
Our approach to succession planning is to create a long-term process for assessing, managing, and developing talent across the organization. The goal is not to name specific successors, but to identify the experience and performance issues that affect the ability of the organization to flourish following the departure of the chief executive. When a leadership transition occurs, it offers a natural, although brief, opportunity to shake up the status quo and change it fundamentally. This can be a unique chance to reset an organization’s rhythms to the requirements of the future — if well planned.
Executives who do make the transition successfully often focus from the very beginning of their planning on the kind of legacy they want to leave behind — as a way of setting their sights on the finish line. When executives position their organizations for change, they are free to respond positively to opportunities to move in a new direction. There is nothing more important for a leader to do than leave behind an organization that feels like a winner — confident of its future.
Nonprofit CEO Roundtables also include educational presentations provided by experts in the field of nonprofit management and leadership. Educational topics are chosen by the group, and TransitionWorks brings in experts to address them.
Sample Discussion Topics
Why is succession planning a taboo topic with boards, staff, and funders?
When and how to plant the seeds for a successful leadership transition.
How to assess and develop your top talent.
How to nurture emerging and future leaders.
Creating systems for organizational readiness.
Identifying and leveraging coaching opportunities.
Assessing retirement compensation.
Framing your legacy.