Conference Speaker Blog: Executive Transition and Leadership Continuity Affinity Group
Friday, September 14, 2018
As we prepare for the 2018 Alliance for Nonprofit Management National Conference in Hartford, CT from October 10-12th (insert link), we are now finalizing program details and are excited to share a number of program highlights. The ideas below--first published by Alliance member Julia Burns at Clarity Transitions (www.ClarityTransitions.net) reflect a range of themes that the Executive Transition and Leadership Continuity Affinity Group will discuss take up during the affinity group program on Wednesday, October 10th.
A key priority of the Alliance is engaging peer capacity builders around critical issues that impact our work and our practice. And given the impact of leadership transitions and the need for improved succession and sustainability planning, we hope you'll join us in Hartford for this much-anticipated exchange of ideas.
Leadership succession and executive transition, though related, are separate and distinct. Executive transition happens episodically with beginning and end points for each episode; leadership succession is on-going work that never ends. Sounds obvious, but we've all seen organizations and consultants repeatedly lump these together and then neither one is done well. We haven’t even had common language to talk about this – but that’s changing!
Succession = sustainability. Succession isn’t just about finding the next leader or the process to do so, it’s about strengthening an organization and its leadership. That leadership team includes the ED, staff, and board. leaders Strengthening that team includes a deliberate look at an organization’s culture, policies, and plans for diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels.
Strategic planning is a great stepping off point for leadership succession and sustainability. Once an organization knows what it wants to focus on and prioritize, we need to make sure that the right people are there and have the right skills. And that we’re preparing those people for future leadership positions with equitable and inclusive opportunities.
Mission is more important than the organization. We always say that we’re not about perpetuating the organization, but there are too few cases where organizations truly put mission above the organization. Mission exists only to serve community need. Changing that lens powerfully changes thoughts on strategy, people, and sustainability.
Leadership succession is a community challenge – not an organizational challenge. Nonprofits who are afraid of losing their talented staff to other nonprofits are thinking too small. Consider how different the nonprofit sector might look if your organization trained the leaders of all the other organizations that serve a similar mission? If board members who are passionate about a mission move intentionally and in a coordinated way between aligned agencies?
These are a few of the themes and trends that the affinity group is exploring. We’re planning for a robust discussion and we hope you'll join us for that the discussion in Hartford.