Is Leadership Transition a Problem for You?
The word "transition" means the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another state, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Working at a nonprofit, you know that transition is a fact of life. Leadership transition is also a major fact that one must constantly deal with in this profession.
While I was working as the No. 2 administrator in a development office, for example, my boss announced his retirement. I had worked with him for several years. But instead of nominating me for his position, the organization decided to spend thousands of dollars hiring a search firm to find the perfect candidate.
While I had another job offer in my pocket, I decided to apply as an inside candidate. Anyone who has worked in the development field knows that an inside candidate, however qualified, has only a 50 percent chance of landing the job. Many people believe the next leader awaits outside the organization.
Despite the odds, I landed the top job. That only started the process of my experience dealing with leadership transition.
The president who had hired me as his vice president of development/executive director of the foundation stayed in his job about nine months after I was hired. That said, I had to endure a period of transition until the organization hired another president. In my seven-year vice president stint, I worked for five different presidents.
While I hoped to remain in this position for many additional years, the new president seemed to indicate through her actions that she wanted her own person in my role. The constant state of transition did not affect my professional performance, but it took a toll on my health and well-being. Being in a constant state of mental flux is not good for anyone, and I had staff that could have been affected by my state of mind — so I fought to remain positive.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.