How I Do It

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After leading two civic sector organizations through major transitions, I launched Transition Leadership International, LLC. The dozen organizations I have led since have met an average of 90% of the ambitious goals set for us by their Boards; some have substantially exceeded those goals. I am hired to ensure that together we will get results. We will share authority widely but full and final accountability rests with the Board (for governance) and me (for management).

There is no formula for leading an organization in transition.  Each organization represents unique qualities and challenges, so each engagement represents a unique collaboration.  That said, I bring experiences and have seen patterns that will shape our efforts.

I will propose that we test and adapt the following model:

  • We’ll reaffirm our commitment to the mission, the core values it implies–—not just by declaration, but in our actions and relationships.
  • We’ll set rigorous, clearly-defined goals based on the mission and values. We’ll set initial goals, around the urgent or life-threatening issues, within days of my arrival. We will meet those initial goals within the next 90 to 120 days, allowing us to build teamwork and create momentum.  As we approach the end of each goal period we will develop subsequent goals.  We will take these goals very seriously and my compensation will depend, in significant part, upon our hitting them.
  • We’ll open up communications, clarify roles (from the board down), share information widely, outline who participates in decision-making and how and establish clear accountability from top to bottom.
  • We’ll reassess and refine the mission and the core strategies of the organization (sometimes quickly and easily and sometimes through a more fundamental reassessment).
  • We’ll find a long-term CEO (or other appropriate leadership) whose skills and interests match the refined mission and strategy and who is empowered to correct the course along the way.
  • We’ll create a transition designed to reaffirm roles and accountability and to sustain our momentum and our success.