Strong founders and leaders can make strong organizations that last for a long time, but the departure of a strong leader can leave an organization much weaker than just the loss of one executive. A bad transition can have repercussion far beyond a rough couple of weeks.
In their book “When Leaders Leave” Priscilla Rosenwald and Lesley Mallow Wendell emphasize that an organization’s leaders should outline the concrete steps that will strengthen the organization and new chief executive’s alignment of personal and professional goals. If that is not possible, they suggest the following:
- Create a roundtable of trusted advisors. Consider a mentor or thought partner.
- Create the right organizational structure to achieve optimal results. Make sure there are clearly defined roles and responsibilities for staff that emanate from organizational goals.
- Promote better transparency, accountability and decision making throughout the organization. Think about ways to convey tangible and cultural information throughout the organization.
- Cultivate talent. Successive leadership can be developed.
- Create the next series of strategic steps. The organization must keep moving forward.
- Engage the board in helping to identify strategic opportunities. Ask the hard questions, such as, “Is the mission still relevant?”
- Evaluate the external environment. Are there new developments in regulation or funding?
- Identify potential new opportunities. Consider new partnerships and expanded collaborative possibilities.
- Assess the organization’s risk tolerance. And independent consultant might be needed for this.