Janine Vanderburg, CEO and President Joining Vision and Action

These succession planning resources will help guide the conversation about what traits you want to see in your next leader.

Inevitably your nonprofit or social enterprise will have to addresses the critical question: Who is our organization’s next leader? Done correctly, with appropriate succession planning resources, leadership succession planning can create the opportunity for:

  • A celebration of the organization’s accomplishments with the departing leader, consequently, enhanced visibility in the community
  • New energy and ideas to advance the mission and strategic direction
  • Existing staff to further develop their competencies and skills
  • Everyone in the organization to discuss the core values, strengths and competencies sought in the next leader.

When your organization is at this point, here are some steps we recommend and succession planning resources you should have in place:

  1. Make sure you have a current strategic plan in place. I’ve heard organizations say: “Well, we’ll wait until a new executive director comes on and then let that individual lead the strategy development.” While this seems like it makes sense, it’s rarely a good idea.
  2. Develop an understanding of the issues in nonprofit succession planning—here are some books we recommend.
  3. Decide whether you want to pursue an internal hire, conduct a search or appoint an interim director. If you don’t have an internal candidate, make sure to schedule a meeting with board members and staff about: “What are we looking for in a next leader?” JVA uses this list of questions in facilitating these sessions.
  4. Make sure you are developing internal candidates, especially when the planned departure is a year of more off. Many of our JVA clients have sent key staff to JVA’s Executive Director Academy to begin to prepare several people to take on more leadership responsibilities.

And you know that your friends at Joining Vision and Action are always here to help. There is almost nothing we find more rewarding that helping nonprofits and social enterprises find the right next leadership.