Submitted by: Priscilla Rosenwold, Founder & Principal, Leadership Recruiters
If you want to ensure a productive start for your nonprofit’s new chief executive, better get your members board on board quickly. Active participation by board members in integrating a newly hired chief executive into the organization – called on-boarding – not only helps the organization and its leader, but can energize a board at a key moment.
In our new book, When Leaders Leave: A New Perspective on Leadership Change, we illustrate the many ways that an active, engaged board can smooth the process for departing, interim and newly hired chief executives. We want to help board members see that such engagement is essential to fulfilling their responsibility to shepherd the organization through good times and bad, and especially times of transition.
Yes, you’ve got to hire the right person to lead the organization. But without a carefully considered on-boarding process, even the best new hire can flounder in the essential first three months of her or his tenure.
It’s a good idea to extend the current board chair’s tenure while a new executive director is taking the helm; two transitions atop an organization at once can be one too many. That’s just one of the many bits of wisdom we’ve pulled from decades of work in the leadership-transition field, and it anchors a chapter in “When Leaders Leave” we’ve titled “Smooth Sailing.”
Board members should take it upon themselves to integrate the chief executive they hire into the organization, as well as the organization’s key external stakeholders and funders. Just hiring the right candidate is just the beginning when it comes to a board’s ability to steer an organization through a leadership transition.