"It's lonely at the top… "
by Lesley Mallow Wendell
If you are running a nonprofit organization, you know that your role can be isolating.
Although you can consult your senior team and your board's executive committee, the ability to vet challenging issues in a confidential setting with a group of your peers can be invaluable. Peer roundtables have been available to small business leaders for decades, but they have not been as accessible within the nonprofit sector.
Six years ago, we conducted focus groups as part of our research on nonprofit leadership and transition planning. We gathered together groups of nonprofit chief executives in Philadelphia and New York to learn about their leadership and legacy planning. We learned a lot about nonprofit leadership issues.
What surprised us was that several of the participants followed up with us, stating that the focus groups represented their first real opportunity to share insights and experiences with their peers in a facilitated, confidential meeting. As a result, we created the Nonprofit CEO Roundtable in 2007, and a dedicated group of nonprofit chief executives has been meeting regularly ever since.
The Roundtable enables participating chief executives to share leadership challenges with one another and receive information and advice from a group of experienced peers. The setting is confidential, and members know that what is said in the room stays in the room.
The group has helped members consider, and make, major decisions about staffing, board development, strategic direction and, in some cases, when to transition out of their organizations. Nonprofit leaders who participate have strengthened their leadership competencies and developed a variety of tools and strategies to run their organizations more effectively.
To learn more about the Nonprofit CEO Roundtable and whether a peer roundtable is a good fit for your needs, contact us.
Lesley Mallow Wendell is a leadership development expert, executive coach, and professional facilitator.
The Benefits of an Interim Executive Director
Having an interim executive director gives an organization a unique opportunity to engage in self-analysis and introspection as it searches for the successor to a long-term leader or founder.
The tactical work done by the organization during this period results in an awareness of what its strengths and challenges are and a shared vision of where it wants to go. Addressing these issues enables the board to act out of organizational strength — rather than to react in panic to uncertainty. This interim time can be essential for the organization to come to terms with its history and address any latent operational issues. It can also provide time for the staff, board members, and volunteers to address their own sense of grief and loss in order to be ready to embrace a new leader.
Interim executive directors are not simply board members or internal staff who assume the place of the chief executive until the permanent successor is identified.
To add value, we recommend skilled managers and former chief executives who temporarily (three to six months) help the board and staff address critical operational, organizational, and personnel issues and lay the groundwork for the permanent leader's success. A competent external interim can help institute changes that can turn around an organization in crisis. In stable organizations, the interim can provide an important respite between a founder, or other "big shoes" leader, and his/her successor.
To meet this interim need, Leadership Recruiters has identified a core of seasoned executives able to provide objective guidance and a sense of calm during the period of uncertainty between past and future.
If you are interested in learning more, contact us.
From the Guidance for Good Blog
Looking for Leaders in All the Wrong Places
Have you had the experience of wondering if the person in charge of your business or nonprofit understood that power was not synonymous with leadership? [more]