The most shocking part about that excerpt is that the article was written in January of 2020. This goes to show that rapid change in the nonprofit space was happening long before the pandemic hit. And in today’s post-COVID world, change has only accelerated further.
In fact, recent research from Ernst & Young in collaboration with Oxford University indicates that 85% of senior leaders have been involved in two or more major organizational transformations over the last 5 years, with 67% of those surveyed indicating that at least one of the transformations they have been a part of has underperformed relative to expectations.
There are many questions facing an Executive Director when considering departing their organization, such as:
COVID-19 and the all the stress that surrounds it has made for a very uncertain time for many social service organizations. Lockdowns kept us from connecting with the people who count on our services. Many offices had to move to remote work plans. Fundraisers had to be reinvented as “virtual” or cancelled all together. We all know these and many more unsettling realities about our world since March of 2020.
In the beginning of all this, we prided ourselves on “pivoting” to be able to bridge and adapt to changing realities. Now we are sick and tired of pivoting. In reality, many of us are just…sick and tired.
Like our mothers always told us though (or at least mine did), there can be a silver lining if you are open to finding it.
2020 was truly a váltás, a time to pivot, think outside the box, adapt, and change from one direction or place to another. Few will look back on this year with fond memories; however, many will recall how resilience, empathy, and a deep commitment to one another was demonstrated in both small moments and big ways.
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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