THE WHEN & WHY OF INTERIM NONPROFIT LEADERSHIP
Have you noticed a trend lately of more nonprofit organizations hiring interim executive leaders after an Executive Director (ED)/CEO departs? Your eyes are not deceiving you! More and more nonprofit organizations are benefiting from bringing on an interim leader during a time of transition. While sometimes it makes perfect sense to hire a new Executive Director to take over from a departing ED, in many instances it can be advantageous to first bring on an Interim ED for a period of time.
I’m standing in the cafeteria holding a tray of food.
It’s 1979 and I am a freshman in High School. I look around to see a room divided. The black people are sitting on one side, the white people on the other, the Filipinos, the Mexicans in the middle–and I ask myself the question, “where do I belong?” Little did I know this question would permeate the entire rest of my life.
The Valtas team has been incredibly fortunate to identify and hire a consulting team of Interim Executive Directors (IED) with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. We are frequently asked what it takes to be a successful Interim Executive Director.
There are many overlapping skills between someone who serves as an executive leader in a nonprofit and a consulting Interim ED or CEO. There are also a few key differences between a regular Executive Director role and an IED. Each nonprofit has some variability and nuance – different types of business models and program delivery, staff size, and funding complexity all impact the role of a nonprofit leader.
What do I do now?!?
As a non-profit board leader, managing a leadership transition is one of the most important responsibilities you have.
There are a number of different options when your executive director leaves.
Is your organization ready for the scale of the challenges ahead?
Based upon a number of studies, there are as many as one quarter of all nonprofit Executive Directors/CEO’s (“ED’s) who are planning to transition from their role within the next six months. As much as one-third of nonprofits have had two or more executives exit in the past five years. I’m sure you know some of these organizations.
Is there anyone flying this plane?
In too many cases, a nonprofit board’s approach to leadership turnover is hectic, not well thought out or planned, reactive instead of proactive. Most often, the board is group of passionate, well-meaning volunteers who are now faced with the single most important role they will have: selecting a new leader. How the board navigates the transition will directly impact the future and potential viability of the organization.
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