Spring 2013 Newsletter

Volume 9: Issue 1    Spring 2013 

The Pinnacle Message: Change is Inevitable

When Leaders LeaveOur much-awaited book on succession planning and leadership legacy will be available this spring. When Leaders Leave is a “how-to” book, written by Lesley Mallow Wendell and Priscilla Rosenwald, that helps non-profit organizations plan for the inevitable transition of leadership. The book offers advice to board chairs who are thinking about succession planning, to foundations that are asking organizations to look at the longer horizon and to chief executives who know that five years down the road there will be other challenges calling.

The book integrates cautionary tales and missteps, with the real issues that surface about change, legacy and transition. The tools are designed to help readers avoid disasters and achieve success and to provide guidelines for boards and leaders to begin to open up the difficult conversation about leadership transition.

Happy Spring,

Investing in Talent Management Doesn't Have to Break Your Budget

Organizations that pay attention to managing and developing their employees can reap the benefits of increased retention and productivity, not to mention easier pathways to succession and transition planning. And yet, many nonprofit leaders lament that such initiatives are too costly and simply "not in the budget." There are many strategies that nonprofits can adopt to provide development opportunities in cost-effective ways.

Ideally, your performance management system should identify development needs, particularly in your senior team. This flows from knowing what skills and competencies are required for success in specific roles, as well as in the organization as a whole. A clear understanding of staff career development goals should surface through discussions with individuals about their needs and aspirations.

It's a good idea to have these career development discussions at least once a year, so that you can jointly agree on annual development goals and identify strategies to work on reaching them. Ask them questions about how they want to grow and develop. What roles in your organization or in the sector interest them? Help them to prepare for movement in the organization by openly discussing the skills and experiences they need to acquire to position themselves successfully for opportunities. Once these have been identified, it becomes easier to create individual development plans.

There are a number of low or no cost ways your team can develop their leadership competencies, project management and communications skills.

  • Encourage them to serve on nonprofit boards of organizations that don't compete with yours. This is an effective way for staff to develop skills in all three areas. They can research organizations that are a fit with their needs, goals interests and passions, and you or members of your own board can help to make introductions for them.

  • If members of your board work in companies that provide internal training on leadership, finance and other management topics that are general rather than proprietary, ask if some of your staff might be able to attend free of charge.

  • Have them work on special projects or rotational assignments so your team experiences cross-training. Ask members of your senior team to rotate facilitation of meetings. If they are staffing a board committee, give them the chance to hone their communication skills by making a presentation either to the committee or to the entire board.

  • There are a number of local leadership development programs that provide mentoring or leadership development. Local chambers of commerce often offer low or no-cost leadership development or mentoring programs.

There are many creative ways to help your team develop the critical skills and competencies they will need to advance their careers. Help them to assess their current competencies, identify goals, create development plans and implement them. Your organization will benefit from the contributions a committed team of professionals with an expanding skill set can make.

Creating the Leadership Legacy

In our work with seasoned and long-term leaders, for many individuals, thinking about moving on while leaving a legacy can be a source of anxiety. Executives who do make a successful transition often focus from the beginning of their tenure on the kind of legacy they want to leave behind. This serves as setting their sights on the finish line.

When executives continually see their leadership as their ability to craft their legacy, they are free to respond to opportunities to move in new directions. There is nothing more important than for a leader to position their organization to flourish. Using legacy thinking as a forward-thinking tool, it is important for the leader to:

  • Define personal and professional aspirations

  • Consider the importance of one-one influence

  • Understand the intrinsic link between daily behavior and long-term impact

  • Ensure that personal and professional priorities are continually reflected in actions

  • Use legacy thinking to assess and filter decisions

One of the key aspects of leadership legacy planning is to ensure that all strategic planning conversations incorporate succession planning. Succession planning is not just for managing an executive transition. To promote organizational sustainability, every nonprofit must continually ensure that it has the right set of skills, talents and attributes represented in its professional and board leadership. A vibrant, engaged board can help an organization approach leadership change, and support the process of creating a leadership legacy.

Much of the time, people begin to consider the overall impact of their leadership when they are about to retire or move to another leadership role.  One’s desired leadership legacy should be a catalyst for action. Being intentional about long-term impact helps in the short and long run.

Recent Projects

  • Executive Director — Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia

  • Chief Executive Officer — Berks Community Health Center

  • Chief Financial Officer  — Opportunity Finance Network

  • Chief Executive Affairs Officer — Opportunity Finance Network

  • Director of Major Gifts — United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey

  • Director of Development — Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

  • Director of Finance — Children’s Literacy Initiative

  • Communications Managing Director — Public Health Management Corporation

  • Senior Manager of Membership — Society of Hospital Medicine

  • Vice President, Parks & Streetscape Operations — Center City District

  • Workshop and Consulting, Strategies to Achieve Effective Leadership TransitionThe Philadelphia Foundation

Priscilla Rosenwald is the Principal of Leadership Recruiters, an executive search firm providing strategic staffing and leadership development for nonprofit and social enterprise organizations.

215-665-1479  •  pinnacle@leadrecruit.com  •  Leadership Recruiters  •  TransitionWorks

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