4 Keys to Successful Executive Transitions
nonprofit management tips

Leadership succession can come in any number ways for any number of reasons, including routine retirement, issues with performance, and conflict. It is thus of the utmost importance for your organization to be ready when it comes time to fill a leadership gap.

    Jackie Elder, president of Transition Management Consulting, discussed keys toward effective transitions during “Who Will Succeed Your Organization’s CEO,” during the American Society of Association Executives’ Great Ideas Conference in Orlando, Fla. Among the recommendations to come out of the presentation were:

  • Ask key questions on the outset. What is the anticipated duration of the transition period? What needs to be addressed during the transition period? Are there any special considerations? What is happening within the organization and industry?
  • Maximize the transition period. Review strategy, governance, management, business model, and culture. Eliminate underperforming programs and services. Conduct performance reviews and take actions such as promote, demote, and other title adjustment. Create or review senior or key staff succession plans. Improve communications and seek expertise from existing or exiting employees. Prepare an onboarding plan for the new executive;
  • Consider the qualities of successful transitions. These include keeping the legacy of the departing CEO intact, ensuring that the board has a clear vision and direction, a focus on enhancing under-developed and under-performing programs, and finding a new CEO aligned with the culture and strategy; and,
  • Think about traits of unsuccessful transitions. These include transitions with no transition plan, no clear direction for the future, undesirable staff departures, and risk-averse, fearful, or reactive behaviors.