Posts Tagged ‘The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide’

[Podcast] Your best sustainability safety net: Create a culture of leadership development

When most nonprofits consider succession planning, they view the board working episodically when it senses a looming change on the horizon. Author Tom Adams argues that rather than experience abrupt changes in sustainability, organizations can, instead, create a culture of continuity through leadership development. What does that mean? Listen to his sound bites below and find out.

CausePlanet: The statistic that 75 percent of nonprofit leaders plan to leave their positions coupled with the statistic that 71 percent of nonprofits don’t have a succession plan in place is staggering. If you could push the rewind button for a nonprofit when its CEO resigns, what preparations would you recommend they make as they head toward this change of leadership hands?

Tom AdamsLook at sustainability – 4 dimensions

CausePlanet: What’s the biggest elephant in the room when broaching the subject of succession planning with the board and current CEO?

Tom Adams: What is the elephant in the room?

CausePlanet: What’s the most common barrier to or misconception about succession planning that prevents nonprofits from engaging in the steps to begin a plan?

Tom Adams: There is a normal fear of misunderstanding–the executive feeling forced out or the board feeling the executive is concerned about confidence in her/him. So, it is easy to put off. The second barrier is a narrow understanding of the benefits. Succession planning ought to be more than a check-the-box completion of some boilerplate documents. It is a strategic process that advances mission effectiveness and the leader development culture. When seen more broadly, it is still hard to find time. With the CEO and board champions, it happens and the value becomes clear.

In this last sound bite, Adams shares two organizations that grappled with the anticipation of succession planning and made some important discoveries: Two examples from the nonprofit sector.

Learn more about The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide. 

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CausePlanet’s Choice Awards–Top Books for nonprofits from 2014

Here they are — our favorites from 2014. We read so many compelling, insightful books last year on a variety of essential topics, but the final choices came down to originality and applicability.

Each of our Choice Book Awards had either a fresh perspective on an imperative competency or broadened our thinking by tackling new territory. Additionally, all the authors brought their content to life through helpful case stories, exhibits, tools and evidence. These favorites are sure to help you work smarter; we hope you delve into them soon.

CausePlanet’s Top Five Choice Awards from 2014:

1) Fundraising the Smart Way: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity + Website by Ellen Bristol


Bristol gives you an innovative, concrete way to track and monitor your donors’ progress toward making donations. No more guessing about a prospect’s ability and desire to give means you can confidently meet and surpass your fundraising goals. Learn more about the author, book and Page to Practice summary.

2) The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving by Jeff Brooks


Brooks shares an unvarnished, refreshing look at how to captivate more donors with accessible ideas that specifically work for nonprofits. He delivers new ways to connect your brand with your donors in a manner they won’t forget. Learn more about the author, book and Page to Practice summary.

3) The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide by Tom Adams


Adams establishes an irrefutable link between effective leadership and organizational impact. What’s more, he comprehensively illustrates numerous advantages and opportunities bestowed upon nonprofits that engage in proactive training, succession planning and transition management. Learn more about the author, book and Page to Practice summary.

4) Fundraising with Businesses: 40 New and Improved Strategies for Nonprofits by Joe Waters


The organization of this book is what really caught our attention. Waters gives you specific cause (pronounced “khaz” by Waters) marketing strategies, how to implement them, ideas you’re encouraged to steal and success stories at every turn. His approachable format is chock-full of applicability. Learn more about the author, book and Page to Practice summary.

5) The Abundant Not-for-Profit: How Talent (Not Money) Will Transform Your Organization by Colleen Kelly and Lynda Gerty


Kelly and Gerty reveal a transformational method for utilizing your community’s expertise. At the center of this transformation is a new breed of volunteer—a “knowledge philanthropist.” The abundance model will revolutionize your use of talent, cultivate a renewable resource and be a welcome relief on the budget. Learn more about the author, book and Page to Practice summary.

Thank you to all our authors who give us reading pleasure and professional inspiration every day. It’s a pleasure to promote your smart advice at CausePlanet.

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Are you leaderless or leaderful? Results tell the truth.

“Our sector’s challenge is to move beyond episodic and scattered attention to leader transitions and leader development to a consistent and thoughtful ongoing strategy,” claims Tom Adams, author of The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide.

Leading in the nonprofit sector isn’t easy. When surveyed, 75 percent of nonprofit leaders are planning to leave their positions in the next five years with some already in the process. At the same time, 71 percent of these organizations have no succession plan in place. What becomes of organizations that experience its leader’s exit without a plan? Results and impact pay the price.

Adams establishes in his book that there is an irrefutable connection between effective leaders and organizational results and impact. He further introduces the topic of transition planning and talent development by defining a “leaderful” organization:

“A nonprofit that consistently pays attention to and invests in leader transitions and leader development. These organizations live out their belief that there is a direct link between the effectiveness of their leaders and their impact in the world.”

Adams acknowledges there are common reasons for inaction, which are rooted in deeply ingrained defenses or rationalizations for not engaging in succession planning. Some of these rationalizations may sound familiar:

“Sure, investing in leaders is important, but we don’t have the resources.”

“I don’t expect to leave any time soon, so why worry about the executive change now?”

“We’ll get to that as soon as we finish this big project.”

Adams challenges you to reexamine these and other half-truths and reminds us there is great opportunity within leader transitions, such as changing direction, maintaining momentum and strengthening your capacity. So what behaviors do leaderful organizations exhibit?

There are two practices that advance leaderful organizations during and before leader transitions:

1) succession planning (which is of three types—emergency, departure-defined and ongoing leader development/talent management) and

2) executive transition management (which includes three phases Adams describes as “prepare, pivot and thrive” as well as a focus on organizational capacity, direction, priorities, required leader competencies, and proactive search and successful entry and connection of the new executive).

In this article, we’ll focus on the first practice. Succession plans can take on many forms. Adams elaborates on this topic in the adjacent table and shares a few essential elements to consider when in the early stages of preparing a plan. He explains the kind of succession planning you are doing will determine what is in your plan.

Let this list from Adams be a prompt for you to consider what might belong in your succession plan. More importantly, don’t let your organization’s impact be diminished because you waited too long.

See also:

Match: A Systematic, Sane Process for Hiring the Right Person Every Time

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The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide by Tom Adams

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