The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide

publication date: Apr 2, 2011

This dynamic resource by Tom Adams (an expert in succession planning who has worked with hundreds of organizations) shows how intentional leadership development and properly managed leadership transitions provide nonprofits with the rare opportunity to change direction, maintain momentum, and strengthen their capacity.Nonprofit Leadership Transition Guide book cover

It's an accessible guidebook filled with illustrative stories, instructive lessons, best practices and practical tools that can ensure a successful nonprofit leadership transition.

In the chapter on "Managing Emotions," Adams offers a list of questions for reflection:

For the individual leader

  1. What emotions have surrounded the past major life transitions you have faced? Consider graduation, marriage, divorce or the ending of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, leaving a job or the loss of a dream.
  2. Fear comes in many flavours. Can you list the types of fear you feel? Which fears seem grounded and realistic, and which ones are based on unlikely scenarios? Which cause you the most stress?
  3. What habits of self-care have worked best for you? Are there habits you want to reactivate or new activities you want to consider to better care for your body, mind or spirit?

For executive directors and board leaders

  1. How has your board responded in the past to major changes at the organization? What sort of emotional reactions did you observe? How did the board handle its reaction?
  2. How has your staff responded in the past to major changes? What sorts of reactions did you observe?  How did the staff handle reactions? 
  3. What traditions or actions has your organization used to support board and staff during a change? What is appreciated and ought to be used more often or more consistently? What new actions might you consider?
  4. Think about yourself, your staff, volunteers, board members, clients, funders, and other constituents. Relative to a potential or imminent executive or key leader transition, consider the following:
  • What is each losing?
  • What is each gaining?
  • In what ways will each express emotion?
  • What different practices might help each deal with the uncertainty of change?
  • What in our shared past makes us uniquely able to thrive in the coming circumstances?
  • Who do you think will want to rush through change? Who will want to deny it? Who will respond pragmatically? In what ways will each feel most respected and attended to during this change?
  • What would a positive transition look like from each group's perspective? A negative transition?

This helpful book covers a wide range of topics, showing how to implement policies to deal with emergencies, plan for the future, and grow leaders on the staff - both loyal lieutenants and executives-in-waiting. The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide brings together the author's knowledge, research, and hands-on experience in a single volume. Purchase your copy now for just $50. 

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