Of the many responsibilities of a nonprofit board, there are few as consequential as the selection of the executive director or CEO. Here are a few words of counsel I would offer any board as they consider a future executive transition.
- Anticipate it before it happens. At some point the organization is going to need a new executive. So start planning now.
- Insist that the current executive build bench strength with senior staff – as much as resources allow.
- Adopt an emergency succession plan in case an unforeseen event diminishes the capacity of the current executive to serve.
- Keep the organization’s performance strong. A solid performance foundation makes recruitment of the next executive much easier.
- Keep the organization’s strategic priorities clear.
- Cultivate habits in the board room for thinking and talking about the future.
- Develop a plan for how you will engage the process of executive transition when the day comes.
- Keep the relationship of board and executive on as high a level of trust as possible. Make it easy for the executive to let you know when she or he plans to leave.
Karen Lehman, a consulting associate with MHS, has considerable experience in executive transitions. She is giving leadership to our executive search and transition services that support boards and executives in their transition work. Contact Karen if you would like to discuss your organization’s consideration of executive transition.