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.