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Managing Leadership Transition for Nonprofits: Passing the Torch to Sustain Organizational Excellence

By Barry Dym, Susan Egmont, Laura Watkins

Published by FT Press

Published Date: Mar 9, 2011


For nonprofits leadership transitions are a time of exceptionally high risk. Here, three internationally-respected experts show how to systematically identify, introduce, support, and monitor leaders in ways that enhance rather than undermine their performance. They explain why leadership transitions are so challenging for nonprofits, and show how to replace chaos and crisis with proven, sustainable leadership transition plans.


Writing for all nonprofit board members, leaders, aspiring leaders, and stakeholders, the authors demonstrate how to:

  • Maintain organizational momentum, continuity, and credibility through the transition
  • Find leaders who align well with your organizational values and its evolving culture
  • Avoid fighting, rumors, accusations, and the common mistakes that derail nonprofit leadership transitions
  • Build a sturdy bridge between departing and incoming leaders
  • Set appropriate expectations for both boards and leaders, and guide them to complement each other successfully
  • Plan succession and continuity for the long-term
  • Use transitions to advance the organization’s mission

Table of Contents

Introduction     1


Section 1:  Leadership and the Challenge of Transition

Chapter 1   What Makes Nonprofit Leadership So Challenging?     29

Chapter 2   Why Transitions Fail     53


Section 2:  Fundamentals of Effective Leadership

Chapter 3   Mission, Vision, and Effective Leadership     77

Chapter 4   Leadership and Strategy     95

Chapter 5   Good Governance     109

Chapter 6   Alignment     131


Section 3:  Professionalizing the Transition Process

Chapter 7   Creating a Transition Management Plan     151

Chapter 8   Transition Management     175

Chapter 9   Managing the Search Process     191

Chapter 10  Using Interim CEOs During Transition     223

Chapter 11  Introducing the New Leader     235


Section 4:  Attending to New Beginnings

Chapter 12  Succession Planning     253

Chapter 13  Leadership Continuity and Long-Term Governance     265

Epilogue     285


Section 5:  Tools

Appendix A  Notes on Research and Research Methods     289

Appendix B  Sample Leadership Transition Plan     291

Appendix C  Sample CEO Job Descriptions     303

Appendix D  Sample CEO Evaluation Templates     315

Appendix E  Sample Board Evaluation Templates     327

References     337

Index     345