Thursday, May 17, 2018

Succession Planning: The Five Stages of CEO Abandonment



Note:
 This is the ninth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


Principle No. 9 - Plan for Plan B: Your CEO Resigns

Surprise…and maybe shock! While you thought your CEO would serve until retirement, today she called your board chair to announce her resignation! 


CEOs exit for many reasons:
• God’s call to another ministry
• Transition back to a previous career or organization
• Burnout or boredom
Lack of passion
• Illness or family challenges
• Geographical and/or weather preferences
• “Pounding the same nail” one too many years
• Out of alignment with the board’s vision
• Failure or position mismatch
• Theological disagreements

You likely have other reasons to add to this list.

Boards will often have a sense of abandonment. The timing is rarely perfect. Some board members will experience one or more of the five stages of loss and grief popularized by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

As you’re negotiating this transition, heed the counsel from author William Bridges, who notes that “the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” He lists three phases of managing a transition: the ending, the neutral zone, and the new beginning. 

Boards will be alert to these phases during a CEO succession process. For more, read Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, by William Bridges, and read my blog post, “Beware the Emotional Effects of Transition,” about the 22 emotions that your board might experience along the continuum—from denial to enthusiasm.

Warning and Reminder! How boards and CEOs negotiate the delicate dance of honoring each other will be observed by staff, volunteers, stakeholders, givers, and the community. (Not to mention your next CEO recruit!) What an opportunity to be God-honoring!

BOARD DISCUSSION: True or False?
1. We have board-approved policies that address CEO succession.
2. As a board, we are experienced at spiritually discerning God’s voice—and we will not need to learn this competency in the middle of a crisis.

TO DO TODAY:
Download the Facilitator Guide and inspire a board member to address how you’ll respond to a “Plan B” scenario. Remember: every CEO is an Interim CEO. 

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Succession Planning: “Do I Still Have Fire in My Belly?”


Note:
 This is the eighth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


Principle No. 8 - Plan for Plan A: Your CEO Retires

News Flash! Your CEO will retire someday, as will the senior leaders reporting to the CEO. Healthy boards and healthy CEOs address these facts of life well in advance. Effective boards take time for prayer, discernment, and considering God-honoring options. The toolbox resources for “Plan for Plan A” include helpful questions so boards and CEOs can address the elephant in the room. 

Example:
“We have clear expectations and written annual goals (with annual performance reviews) for our CEO to prevent ‘coasting’ into retirement.”
• “Our CEO already has a healthy and balanced life outside of work so retirement will not be a shock to the system.”

Even if your current CEO is relatively young, effective boards help CEOs plan for their inevitable retirement. David McKenna counsels, "Succession begins before we assume a position of leadership, not when we get ready to leave it.”

In the next two blogs, we’ll discuss Plan B—your CEO resigns, and Plan C—your CEO is terminated. Given three choices, Plan A is a joy to address!

When should a CEO retire or resign? McKenna says “timing is everything” when discerning when to leave a ministry. CEOs should ask themselves, “Do I still have fire in my belly for the future of this organization?”

In The Leader’s Legacy, McKenna notes three questions from Peter Drucker:
   • What needs to be done?
   • Can I do it?
   • Do I want to do it?

Download the Facilitator Guide and inspire a board member to address this common elephant in the room at your next board meeting. Remember: every CEO is an Interim CEO. 

BOARD DISCUSSION: One retirement option for your CEO might be to launch a second part-time career (consulting, teaching, writing, etc.). Would our board be open to our CEO beginning what Bob Buford, author of Halftime, labeled “low-cost probes” into a new venture while still employed here?

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Succession Planning: “Wise People Know When to Quit”


Note:
 This is the seventh of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


Principle No. 7: Trust God and Discern Direction! Wisdom on Ending Well

Here’s a gut-check: “Does our board regularly practice spiritual discernment for fork-in-the-road decisions, or are our prayer practices more superficial than transformational?”


When your CEO retires, resigns (or if necessary, is terminated)…does your board have a culture and adequate competencies for spiritually discerning God’s voice? A time of crisis is a very bad time to play catch-up on how to hear from God.

Don’t wait until the eleventh hour of a succession planning crisis to get on your knees. Practice spiritual discernment early and often! But note this caution from Ruth Haley Barton in Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry:

“It is also important to involve the right people. One very common leadership mistake is to think that we can take a group of undiscerning individuals and expect them to show up in a leadership setting and all of a sudden become discerning!”

A board with spiritual discernment radar will also have wise counsel for their CEO regarding exit plans. In his book, Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward, Dr. Henry Cloud quotes Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” Cloud, a leadership coach and clinical psychologist, also adds, “Wise people know when to quit.”

When boards help their CEOs end well at the right time and in God-honoring ways, they build a healthy foundation for God’s next leader.

The Facilitator Guide includes a resource from Ruth Haley Barton with ten guidelines for “entering into and maintaining a listening posture.” It’s a powerful list!  

Check it out here: 


DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

BOARD DISCUSSION: Does our board regularly practice spiritual discernment for fork-in-the-road decisions, or are our prayer practices more superficial than transformational?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Succession Planning: Does Your CEO Need a Coach?

Note: This is the sixth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.

Principle No. 6: Invest in Growing Your Leaders (Every Leader Needs a Coach)

Bill Conaty and Ram Charan preach this memorable one-liner in their powerful book, The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers:

“Only one competency lasts.
It is the ability to create a steady,
self-renewing stream of leaders.”

These two business leaders list 12 “Leadership Pitfalls” in The Talent Masters, including “not developing your own succession plan.” Boards should memorize the list and be alert to staff members practicing this pitfall: “’Running for office’—which is totally transparent to everyone else.”

So on your journey towards succession plan readiness—how high is your board setting the bar on these two big ideas?
   1) Grow your CEO.
   2) Inspire your CEO to grow leaders.

I know. I know. The daily to-do list pushes succession preparation way down. Critical budget needs leave inadequate funds for leader development. Stop! Reflect! Pray! Consider this wisdom:

CFO to CEO:
“What happens if we invest in developing our people
and then they leave us?

CEO:
“What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

Or this from Jack Welch, quoted by Jeff McManus in Growing Weeders Into Leaders: Leadership Lessons from the Ground Level“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

Or this from Paul to Timothy: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2, NIV)

Principle No. 6 includes four discussion ideas for inspiring your CEO to grow—so when succession happens, your next CEO will take the baton of a healthy, God-honoring organization. 

Check it out here: 


DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

BOARD DISCUSSION: Does your CEO need a coach? According to Soderquist Leadership, “92% of executives who received coaching said they would be willing to be coached again.”

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Succession Planning: The Ongoing Continuous Process


Note:
 This is the fifth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


What committee or task force owns short-term vs. long-term succession planning?

Principle No. 5: Delegate Succession Planning to the Appropriate Committee lists three tips so you’ll keep succession planning on your year-round agenda.

Tip No. 1: There is a substantial difference between executive transition and succession planning. As Nancy Axelrod notes in her very helpful resource, Chief Executive Succession Planning, the first is “an intermittent event that is time-line driven,” while the latter is “an ongoing continuous process that boards (with the help of their chief executive) implement.”

Tip No. 2: Assign succession planning to the committee or task force that fits your board culture. One size doesn’t fit all—but consider what committee will have high competence in discerning your on-going process, but can also spring into action when an executive transition occurs (by design or default).

And this reminder: emergency transitions are a very bad time to begin learning how to spiritually discern God’s voice. Build some spiritual discernment exercises into your board work now—not when the crisis hits.

Tip No. 3: Provide your committee or task force with resource materials on succession planning. Four books are listed in the materials. Order all four and delegate your reading:

Stewards of a Sacred Trust: CEO Selection, Transition and Development for Boards of Christ-centered Organizations, by David L. McKenna (ECFAPress)
Chief Executive Succession Planning: Essential Guidance for Boards and CEOs, by Nancy R. Axelrod (BoardSource)
Boards That Lead: When to Take Charge, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way, by Ram Charan, Dennis Carey and Michael Useem (Harvard Business Review Press)
NEXT: Pastoral Succession That Works, by William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird (Baker Books)


Principle No. 5 includes “Five Critical Next Steps” for your board to address, including: “If outside help or counsel is needed (a volunteer, a board coach, or consultant, for example), does the committee have the authority to retain necessary assistance? (What is the budget?) 

Check it out here: 

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

BOARD DISCUSSION: "Are there appropriate board-approved succession policies to guide the work of the Succession Planning Task Force?"

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Succession Planning: “One Size Fits All” Is Bad Counsel


Note:
 This is the fourth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


Randon Samelson’s helpful book on biblical strategic planning describes a leadership succession plan that actually worked!

Breakthrough: Unleashing the Power of a Proven Plan outlines a six-step plan from 1 Chronicles 28-29. That passage is the narrative for King David’s baton pass to his son, Solomon, that included the blueprints to the temple. The result? The temple was completed. Solomon thrived. Outgoing CEO David did not whine in the background.

Skip the six-step plan, warns Samelson, and you’ll face at least three problems when approaching givers. (And you must keep donors in mind in your succession planning.)

But note: the David to Solomon succession plan is just one plan—it’s not the only plan. “One size fits all” is bad counsel. Check out Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and Paul and Timothy (2 Timothy 2:2).

Principle No. 4: Model Successful Succession in the Boardroom First also reminds us: “As the board goes—so goes the organization.”

While boards expect their CEOs and senior team members to have stellar succession plans in place, it’s rare when boards excel at their own succession planning. The best boards anticipate their future leadership needs and build board succession planning into their DNA.

Principle No. 4 lists three aspirations on board succession, including: “We are developing a quality ‘pipeline’ of likely board prospects so when relocation, death, or the incapacitation of a board member requires filling an unexpired term, we are ready.” 

Check it out here: 

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

BOARD DISCUSSION: While certain biblical examples of leadership successions are not necessarily prescriptive for your unique situation, what are some foundational biblical principles you can glean from David and Solomon or Paul and Timothy or others?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Succession Planning: Is Your CEO Thriving or Just Surviving?

Note: This is the third of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.

Dr. Richard Swenson suggests you deactivate your home answering machine, or record this message:


“Please wait for the beep and hang up.” 

He says we need more margin (and less phone interruptions) in our lives. He defines “marginless” in his must-read classic, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.

Marginless is fatigue; margin is energy.
Marginless is red ink; margin is black ink.
Marginless is hurry; margin is calm.
Marginless is anxiety; margin is security.
Marginless is culture; margin is counterculture.
Marginless is the disease of the new millennium; margin is the cure.

“Margin” is a big idea in the third of 11 principles in the new ECFA Governance Toolbox on succession planning: “When your CEO’s lifestyle…is characterized by workaholism (often self-induced), an inappropriate physical condition or habit, a plateaued spiritual life, excessive travel, an out-of-whack work/family life balance, and other unhealthy practices—your leader’s tenure will often be shorter than God’s plan.”

Principle No. 3: Inspire Your CEO to Thrive With a God-Honoring Lifestyle asks: Is your CEO thriving?  

“An effective succession planning process begins by ensuring that your board invests time (and accountability) in CEO care. When your CEO lives and models a God-honoring and healthy lifestyle, he or she will likely serve your ministry longer with greater faithfulness and fruitfulness. And potential internal candidates will already affirm and practice this core value.”

William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird, co-authors of NEXT: Pastoral Succession That Works, begin their book with this profound alert: “Every pastor is an interim pastor.” And we would add, “Every CEO is an interim CEO.”

Vanderbloemen and Bird recommend that boards create sabbatical policies, mandate vacations and day offs, and inspire leaders to be in accountability groups. They examined almost 200 pastoral succession case studies. “Too many successions are on the heels of a moral or financial failure. And nearly every one of those failures happened because the [leaders] were (a) tired and (b) didn’t have anyone to talk to about their personal fatigue.”

Principle No. 3 lists six policy considerations and three questions on thriving. Check it out here:

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

BOARD DISCUSSION: Reflect on the theological implications of “every CEO is an interim CEO.” Will our CEO leave when he or she is thriving, or just surviving?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.