Seizing opportunity from the jaws of crisis

Hang on Fred! Cause and Effective's Executive Transition Program is coming!
Hang on Fred! Cause and Effective’s Executive transition Program is coming!

By Chris Gandy

Even in the best of circumstances the departure of a Chief Executive from a cause-based organisation can be highly disruptive. Staff are unsettled. Programs may be placed at risk. Indecision and uncertainty often reign. Clients get twitchy not to mention funding bodies. Also, if we are absolutely honest with ourselves more the one volunteer Board member becomes a little peeved that they have to devout even more time and effort to the organisation during this period. And it is not a here today gone tomorrow issue.  This period of disruption can last between the announcement of the departure of the incumbent and the eventual arrival and acclimatization of  their replacement. This usually takes months.

Looking at the situation from this perspective it is little wonder that the typical reaction of boards is  very transactional – leader departs, the board engages a recruiter and they jointly step through the process to find and on-board a replacement as quickly as possible.

What if, however, we change the lens on how we view this situation? Discard the “crisis lens”and replace it one marked “transformation”. Hundreds of US nonprofits are doing this annually and it is high-time their Australian equivalents seriously considered the same option!

As Tim Wolfred, who has authored books and written many papers on the subject has observed, more and more organisations are recognising that “an executive turnover offers unique opportunities for renewal and fresh thinking”.

To assist boards and employees in this regard, Cause and Effective has recently developed and launched an Executive Transition Program to reframe their organisation in new and creative ways. The process involves:

  • A considered and thorough organisational assessment against our Touchstones.
  • Identifying the needed leadership capabilities and matching these to the organisation’s desired future.
  • A thorough search and recruitment process conducted by a board buoyed and excited by the organisations future social impact.
  • On-boarding the new leader and helping to create an environment where both they, and the organisation under them, can quickly thrive.

Great, “but what about the cost?” we can hear you ask. Having spent years in the not-for-profit sector we are fully aware of the sensitivities around costs – and understandably so. In this case though it should not be an issue. Every organisation budgets for their Chief Executive and obviously there is a saving during this transition period. We commit to providing our Executive Transition Program for no more than it would have cost the organisation had the incumbent remained in place.

So, if your Chief Executive announces their intention to leave – for whatever reason – seize the opportunity to take stock of where your organisation is, where it wants and needs to go and the kind of Executive to help it get there.

About the author: Chris Gandy MAPS is a Director of Cause and Effective ( , an organisation dedicated to assisting cause-based organisations make even greater social impact. We believe our Executive Transition Program is a highly effective way of achieving  this aim during a period which could otherwise be very disruptive.

Image from 123RF

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B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

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