A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action

Succession Planning and Emerging Leadership

Last Revised: March 29, 2017 - Initial Posting: Jun 10, 2008
Purpose

Effective succession planning is a necessity to ensure stability of an agency during a period of leadership transition.  It also provides an opportunity for strategic thinking regarding future agency priorities and needs.

Description

Please LET US KNOW if you have suggestions of any SUCCESSION PLANNING AND EMERGING LEADERSHIP items that might be added.

The following Succession Planning and Emerging Leadership items are featured in this posting:

Preparing for Your Community Action Agency’s Future: Sustainability, Succession and Transition

Community Action Partnership

The Community Action Partnership Sustainability Toolkit is a collection of three guides written specifically with Community Action in mind.  These guides were designed to help Community Action Agency (CAA) leaders strengthen the capacity of their organizations, especially those organizations that may be facing a chief executive or other leadership transition in the near future.  While each of the guides can be used individually, together they are designed to help leaders strengthen their organizations and manage leadership turnover.

  • Part 1 – Organizational Sustainability Planning
  • Part 2 – Executive Succession Planning
  • Part 3 – Executive Transition Management

Succession Planning Draft Policy

Washington County EOC

Washington County EOC established a Succession Planning Draft Policy based on a template developed by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement.  Provisions are included both for temporary unplanned absences (short-term and long-term) and for permanent changes in (a) the Executive Director, (b) Program Director positions, and (c) administrative staff.

The template also includes:

  • Checklist for Acceptance of All Types of Emergency Succession Plans (p. 11)
  • Information and Contact Inventory (pp. 12 - 20)

Succession Planning Workshops

State CAP Associations

A number of State CAP Associations have offered training on succession planning such as:

Executive Search & Transition

CompassPoint Nonprofit Services

The Executive Search & Transition under CompassPoint features a number of items including:

  • Emergency Succession Plan – Sample plan special  with emphasis given to identifying the key leadership functions carried by the executive, identifying the agency managers best qualified to step into the executive role in an emergency, and prescribing the cross-training necessary to prepare the back-up managers to cover the leadership functions.  One major side benefit to implementing this plan is a management team with enhanced leadership skills.
  • Sustainability Audit: Anonymous Staff Survey – A powerful tool for identifying both high priority organizational challenges and the skills needed in the next executive is a staff questionnaire.
  • Sustainability Audit: Stakeholder Interview Questions – Essential to valid agency assessment are the views of persons external to the organization – funders, peer agencies, community members.
  • Sabbaticals: A Checklist for Preparing, Managing, and Re-Entering for planning and mining the learnings of an executive sabbatical--a way of testing the bench strength of your organization.

Executive Transitions Monograph Series

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Annie E. Casey Foundation Executive Transitions Monograph Series

  • Volume 1: Capturing the Power of Leadership Change: Using Executive Transition Management to Strengthen Organizational Capacity (2004) – This report highlights the challenges associated with executive transitions and describes the model of executive management transition that has been used in the last decade.  It also details opportunities for funders to further develop and implement strategies to better cope with executive management transitions.
  • Volume 2: Interim Executive Directors: The Power in the Middle (2005) – This paper explores the benefits and basics of using an interim executive director during a leadership transition. It also highlights some considerations that organizations should take into account when deciding whether or not to use an interim executive director.
  • Volume 3: Founder Transitions: Creating Good Endings and New Beginnings: A Guide for Executive Directors and Boards (2005) – This guide examines the unique challenges presented by transitions involving founders or long-term executives. It provides clear advice for executives and their boards in confronting the complex issues these transitions present.
  • Volume 4: Up Next: Generation Change and the Leadership of Nonprofit Organizations (2005) – Research indicates that leadership transitions from the Baby Boom generation to Generations X and Y will become more common within the nonprofit sector.  This report delivers a series of recommendations on how a variety of stakeholders can improve the hand-off from this generation of leaders to the next.
  • Volume 5: Staying Engaged, Stepping Up: Succession Planning and Executive Transition Management for Nonprofit Boards of Directors (2006) – This publication focuses particularly on board leaders.  It provides a set of practical perspectives, hands-on tools, brief case studies, and useful resources to help board chairs, officers, and members take a proactive approach to preparing their organizations for a transition.  Includes A Practical Self-Assessment, Succession Planning on Your Own, and Transition Management on Your Own.
  • Volume 6: Building Leaderful Organizations: Succession Planning for Nonprofits (2008) – The development of leadership skills throughout an organization is a key strategy for succession planning and strengthening capacity.  This publication presents emergency succession planning tools (an important “risk management” practice).  It offers executive directors concrete guidance for thinking about when and how to leave an organization. It also includes suggestions for boards in being proactive in assuring the sustainability of the organizations for which they are responsible.  Includes Preparing for the Inevitable: A Succession Readiness Checklist, Key Steps for Emergency Succession Planning, The Nuts and Bolts of Departure-Defined Succession Planning, and Am I Still a Leader This Agency Needs (questions for self-reflection).
Capturing the Power of Leadership Change: Using Executive Transition Management to Strengthen Organizational Capacity        Interim Executive Directors: The Power in the Middle        Founder Transitions: Creating Good Endings and New Beginnings: A Guide for Executive Directors and Boards        Up Next: Generation Change and the Leadership of Nonprofit Organizations        Staying Engaged, Stepping Up: Succession Planning and Executive Transition Management for Nonprofit Boards of Directors         Building Leaderful Organizations: Succession Planning for Nonprofits

Other Related Publications from the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Ready-to-Lead? Next Generation Leaders Speak Out        Next Shift: Beyond the Nonprofit Leadership Crisis        Leadership Transitions: A Rough Wave to Ride        What’s Next? Baby Boom-Age Leaders in Social Nonprofits        Nonprofit Executive Leadership and Transitions Report        Finding Opportunity in Transition

Other Helpful Resources

Books, Reports and Articles

Outcomes

Effective succession planning is a necessity to ensure stability of an agency during a period of leadership transition.  It also provides an opportunity for strategic thinking regarding future agency priorities and needs.

Staff involvement with leadership development helps promote a strong commitment toward the mission of Community Action.  Participation in leadership development across all departments increases knowledge about the agency’s overall efforts and fosters working relationships among staff.  Support for leadership development skills also helps equip staff for future job promotion opportunities.

Contact

Kenneth Ackerman, Virtual CAP Project Manager
434.295.8802