ETLC Practitioner Conference Calls
Founder Transitions – How an Interim Executive Director Can Help Ease The Way
Presented by Beth L. Schecter, MPH, MBA, Interim ED at 10 organizations.
Join us Wednesday, December 13, 2017, 12 noon to 1:15 pm EST
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Founder's syndrome (also founderitis) is a popular term for a difficulty faced by organizations where one or more founders maintain disproportionate power and influence following the effective initial establishment of the project, leading to a wide range of problems for the organization. --Wikipedia
Is the above definition still relevant? Is this how we should approach a founder transition? An organization run by its founder (or a long-tenured Executive Director) has to deal with transition issues often not faced by other groups. The founder may be the personification of the organization and its overall mission, and the board is usually reluctant to make the first move toward change.
Many founders find it threatening to think about their successors, and some avoid or even sabotage planning for an organization’s future that does not involve them for fear of losing their creation. Meanwhile, many organizations continue to depend heavily on the fundraising prowess of founders, as well as their other skills, which can keep organizations from making a healthy transition to new leadership or to facing their own organizational shortcomings.
In this webinar we will discuss how the Interim Executive Director/CEO model can provide a perfect and safe platform for easing the founder or long-term executive director out of the administration of the organization and into a new role, while also helping the board and staff through this unique type of transition by “testing the waters” using the Interim leader as a role model that can lead to a successful, new permanent leader. Through careful negotiations, definition of roles and appropriate boundary setting for the founder, a smooth transition be achieved. Helping the founder identify their “post-transition life” can also help them gain clarity about their personal goals and achieve a more graceful exit or a truly collaborative role.
Plan to share your best practices for founder transitions that have worked for you during an interim assignment. Consider the following question to discuss:
“How is it different going into an organization following a founder or long term executive director/CEO, then other transition situations? How can we best support the founder, board and staff in these situations?”
To best prepare consider reading the 2013 article by Elizabeth Schmidt: Rediagnosing “Founder’s Syndrome”: Moving Beyond Stereotypes to Improve Nonprofit Performance. You can find it on the Nonprofit Quarterly website.
About the Presenter:
Beth is a nonprofit consultant specializing in Executive Transitions. She has over 20 years of executive management experience as an executive director of four health and social service organizations in the Bay Area. She also served as Director of Business Development for WestEd and for United Behavioral Health. She has served as a consultant since 2010 providing interim leadership, planning, board governance, and program viability studies. While serving as an interim director she has tackled many staffing, fundraising, board and financial issues while preparing the organization for new leadership.
Her interim work has spanned ten health, social service and cultural organizations, some with founder transitions and others as turnarounds.
Beth holds a Masters of Public Health and an MBA in organizational leadership.
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