The Interim Solution: Nonprofit Boards Increasingly Embrace Interim Executive Leadership During Executive Transitions

Transitions of nonprofit chief executive officers – whether the position is called Executive Director, President, or CEO – continue to cause nonprofit boards worry and anxiety.  A CEO transition can lead to one of the most vexing periods for a nonprofit.  Funder and staff concerns and community confusion often take the organization off-course aDon Crockernd can stall out the success of even the best organizations.  Recent research on nonprofit CEO transition indicated that in 2011 7% of current CEOs have given notice and 67% anticipate leaving within five years. But within that 67% there is also a large cohort (10%) who have not given notice but say they are actively considering leaving.

However, when professionally managed, a chief executive transition can be one of the most valuable periods of time in a nonprofit’s life cycle.  Important new approaches can be explored, alliances and merger opportunities can be investigated, and the board can reconnect with critical stakeholders through the transition process.  Increasingly, nonprofit board leaders are choosing Executive Search and Transition Management (ESTM) services and the placement of a professional Interim Executive Director to guide the organization through its transition period.  A stronger alternative to traditional search services, ESTM consultants and an Interim Executive Director can work with the organization and its board to seek a harmonious ending for the departing CEO and a healthy, focused beginning for the new one.

An interim not only stabilizes the organization through the transition, but also provides the board with the time needed to carefully examine the aspirations and direction of the organization so that the new leader can effectively move the organization forward. With the help of local and national foundations, the Support Center has helped to prepare a large pool of interims that stand ready to step up and help organizations navigate the potentially rough waters of executive transition.

What have your experiences with transition been like?  Let me know your thoughts below.

One Comment

  • Ellen Carton
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I am in the middle of my first interim e.d. experience and it is a great opportunity – I am able to see – with detachment – how to support the organization to strengthen and grow. As a consultant I have the same detachment but often not enough time to have an impact. This is a great middle ground – between short term consulting and the super difficult job of permanent ED.

    Now I would like to have a network of other interim EDs to connect with.

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