Exits From the Top Episode #6 – Tapping the Power of Executive Coaching During a Leadership Transition

Welcome to Episode #6 of Exits From The Top. We will be talking with veteran executive coaches Viveka Chen and Brian Fraser about tapping the power of executive coaching during a leadership transition. Here’s what you’ll learn from these experts:

  • What executive coaching is and isn’t
  • How coaching works and what it costs
  • How coaching can help the departing executive have a better exit and set themselves up to thrive in life’s next chapter
  • How to find and pick the right executive coach
  • How to work effectively with a coach

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Viveka’s consulting practice is focused on organizational development and executive coaching. She also facilitates retreats and organizational change processes as well as executive transitions and leadership development. Prior to starting her consulting practice in 2001, Viveka was Executive Director of the East Bay Conversion & Reinvestment Commission, and Associate Director of Urban Habitat. For twenty years she has worked with low-income communities of color and their allies to realize racial, social and environmental justice. Click to read more about Viveka and her work with Coaching for Justice.

Brian is the “lead provocateur” at JazzThink, a coaching and consulting firm based in North Vancouver, BC. Brian coaches leaders and teams, offers courses on coaching skills and what he calls SMARTer conversations. Prior to launching JazzThink in 2002, Brian taught and administered in postgraduate leadership programs in the theological colleges at the University of British Columbia. An ordained minister, he still ministers part time with Brentwood Presbyterian Church in Burnaby, BC. Click to read more about Brian and Jazz Think.

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Exits From the Top Episode #5 – Will Your Organization Thrive, Survive or Dive after CEO Succession?

Welcome to Episode #5 of Exits From the Top, which covers how to use organizational sustainability planning as an executive succession planning tool. A tool to add to your exit strategy to ensure that your nonprofit thrives after CEO succession.

What’s covered in this episode:

  • 6 building blocks of sustainability
  • 5 steps to a more sustainable future
  • Key sustainability questions to ask
  • Resources to help assess and plan

When this episode airs it will be early 2015. Perhaps you created a New Year’s resolution for yourself to start planning your exit strategy from your current role. What we’re going to cover  will go a long way to helping you fulfill that resolution.

For many executives it can be a challenge to figure out how to start preparing your organization for your eventual transition out of the CEO role. And it’s especially challenging if you aren’t ready to disclose your departure plans to your board of directors or your staff team just yet. We’re going to talk about two simple succession planning tools that not only will help you get the planning process started, but will help you begin to build the transition competency of your board and your senior management team. AND do it in a way that doesn’t force you to disclose your departure timetable. In fact, you can put these tools in place without even having a specific departure date in mind.

A lot of what we will be talking about today is focused on two planning documents that will be useful for you to have at hand as you watch or listen to this episode. You can grab copies of those documents – for free – by clicking on the “Guide and Templates” found later on this page.

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Exits From the Top Episode #4 – Preparing the Nonprofit Board for its Critical Roles in Succession Planning and CEO Transition

Welcome to Episode #4 of Exits From the Top. We will be talking with Vernetta Walker, Vice President and Chief Governance Officer at BoardSource, about preparing the board of directors for their critical roles in leadership succession planning and CEO transition. This interview is part of a mini-series focused on organizational sustainability and strengthening the organization ahead of the CEO transition.

What We Cover

  • How to broach the topic of succession planning.
  • Constructive partnership as the foundation for all planning – trust, communication and mutual respect.
  • How early should executives announce  their departure intentions?
  • How to prepare the board well ahead of a planned CEO transition.
  • Importance of unpacking the CEO’s job, and how to do it.
  • How succession planning can build the board’s transition competency and comfort with transition.
  • Importance of the board developing a comprehensive understanding of the organization and the transition context before mounting a CEO search.
  • Importance of getting the board to see the CEO transition as more than just an executive search.
  • Importance of having a “leadership agenda” with the new CEO — mutually agreed-on priorities that paint a shared picture of success.
  • Using interim executives in situations where there’s been an abrupt transition, and as a means of detaching and reattaching with CEOs, particularly transitions involving a charismatic departing CEO.

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Exits From the Top Episode #3 – Strategies to Ensure Your Executive Team is Ready for CEO Succession and Transition

Welcome to Episode #3 of Exits From the Top. This week we’ll be talking with Lisa Brown Morton, CEO of NonprofitHR about your executive leadership team and how to involve them in succession planning and prepare them for the CEO transition process. We’ll also touch on succession planning for other C-suite executives. This episode continues our series of conversations with thought leaders and subject matter experts about how to strengthen the organization before, during and after an executive transition.

What We Cover

  • Preparing the senior management team well ahead of the transition.
  • Engaging the senior management team in the transition process.
  • Wisdom of the departing CEO taking another role within their current organization.
  • The importance of starting the succession planning as early as possible.
  • The importance of staying competitive on salaries along the way, not just at a time of transition.
  • The critical roles of communications and trust-building in the transition process.

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Exits From the Top Episode #2 – The Driving Role Strategy & Strategic Direction Play in Nonprofit CEO Transitions

Welcome to Episode #2 of Exits From the Top. We are continuing our series of conversations about the key elements of organizational sustainability and how to strengthen your organization ahead of your CEO transition. This week’s topic is strategy and strategic direction, and the driving role that they play in CEO succession planning and CEO transition. We will be talking with David La Piana, managing partner at La Piana Consulting, a nonprofit consulting firm based in Emeryville, California.

In addition to leading one of the most respected consulting firms in the country, David is one of the most prolific, clear and consistent thought leaders in the nonprofit sector today, especially when it comes to an organization’s business strategy, strategic direction and strategic challenges. David is the author of a number of books including, The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution: Real-Time Strategic Planning in a Rapid Response World. He’s also a co-author of The Nonprofit Business Plan: the Leader’s Guide to Creating a Successful Business Model. David is also widely recognized for his thought leadership on nonprofit mergers and strategic restructuring and has authored a number of articles and publications on this topic. Here’s a link to David’s bio and a link to La Piana Consulting.

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Exits From the Top Episode #1 – Welcome

Welcome to Episode #1 of Exits From the Top. This is a short welcome to the Exits From the Top podcast and YouTube channel and overview of future episodes. Our goal is to help soon-to-retire executives  to take charge of their exits and prepare themselves and their organizations to thrive in life’s next chapter.

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What We Cover

The episodes are going to be organized around four themes.

  1. Strengthening the organization before and during the leadership transition. We will start off with a series of six interviews with national thought leaders who are experts in various aspects of organizational sustainability and capacity building.
  2. Succession tools and strategies. We will continue the interviews with subject matter experts and cover topics ranging from late career salary negotiations to managing transition communications. And many more nuts and bolts topics like that.
  3. Preparing for life’s next chapter.  This series will look at life on the other side of the retirement threshold, covering topics such as creating a magnetic post-career project – something that draws you into life’s next chapter. And many other post-career lifestyle topics.
  4. Succession Stories. This will be an ongoing series of voice of experience interviews with colleagues – former executives who have made the transition to post-career life. They’ll be sharing with us succession and transition tips as well as advice about life beyond the leadership role.

We hope that you find Exits From The Top to be more than just a podcast – that it’s a master course on executive succession planning.

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Review – The Sustainability Mindset (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2014)

tsm-cvrReviewed by Don Tebbe

I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard about it. I was expecting a sequel to Zimmerman and Bell’s earlier book, Nonprofit Sustainability. But The Sustainability Mindset is actually a successor to that important, earlier work. Available from Amazon.com.

My first impression is awe at the authors’ ability to pack so many rich ideas and useful tools into just 200 pages. Beyond the sage advice, I counted no less than 43 figures, 7 tables, 4 sample exhibits, 3 case studies and 23 templates.

The book walks you through a six-step sustainability planning process. As in their earlier work, the central tool of this book is the “matrix map,” a 2-axis, 4-quadrant table that plots the dual bottom-line of a nonprofit: mission impact and financial viability. The idea is that the leadership team assesses the organization’s programs and determines each program’s “profitability” and mission impact. The results are plotted on the matrix map, using circles that are scaled according to each program’s expenses. The composite map provides a comprehensive picture of the organization’s business model. See the example below.

The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010)

ldr_guide_cvrThe Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide covers not just the mechanics of the transition process but important related topics such as the opportunity to ensure leadership diversity, addressing founders and founder transitions, dealing with emotions during the transition process, succession planning, and leader development. The concluding chapter – Many Paths to a Leaderful Organization – sums up the book nicely. 384 pages, 9 chapters, 5 appendices and 15 tools. Available from Amazon.

Managing Executive Transitions: A Guide for Nonprofits (Minneapolis, MN: Fieldstone Alliance, 2009)

met-cvrTim Wolfred is a long-time, key thought leader on the topic of nonprofit executive transitions. Organized around three phases – Prepare, Pivot, and Thrive – Tim provides practical advice on how to manage leadership turnover in ways that can heighten mission impact while avoiding potential downsides.

Prepare – board members, staff, volunteers, and funders engage in an efficient process for updating the agency’s strategic directions and crafting a profile of the skills needed in the next executive.

Pivot – a search ensues, conducted by a board reinvigorated and excited about the agency’s future impact.

Thrive – the board engages the newly hired executive as a leadership partner and gives him or her clear performance priorities derived from the strategic directions.

Managing Executive Transitions provides engaging case studies and hands-on tools such as planning agendas, timelines, sample letters, and communication tips will smooth the transition to new executive leadership. 165 pages, 6 chapters, 3 appendices and 28 tools. Available from Amazon.