Thursday, August 4, 2011

Your Leadership Pipeline

Next week I will be teaching a two day course on Leadership Succession for NeighborWorks America ( in Atlanta.  A few years ago the leaders at NeighborWorks – a national network of organizations which work to provide affordable housing across the country – realized that their local organizations needed to be prepared for the inevitable retirements of Baby Boomers.  They asked me to create a course as one way to help their organizations to be prepared for this big change.

Is your organization prepared for this?  It might hit you sooner than you think.  A recent study by The Meyer Foundation and CompassPoint, entitled “Daring to Lead” ( found that 67% of the nonprofit CEOs surveyed said that they plan to leave their jobs within the next five years.

And this is not just an issue for CEOs.  Baby Boomer retirements will hit organizations at many senior levels.  The first Baby Boomers, born in 1946, are turning sixty-five this year.  The retirement wave will start slowly at first, and then cascade upon us.  We had about 3.4 million births in the US in 1946 – an increase of more than 20% from the year before.  That number kept growing until it hit 4 million per year in 1954 and did not fall below that until 1964 – the end of the Boom.  That is a ton of senior leadership in organizations – and vast institutional knowledge – that will be leaving the workplace.

What should you do to prepare?  I suggest you do two important things: 

*Talking about the possible departure of a CEO or any leader can be a touchy subject.  I recommend that organizations dip their toes in the water on this topic by making sure they have a well thought out “Emergency Transition” plan what would be implemented when any senior leader unexpectedly cannot perform their duties – either for the short term or long term.  This will get the organization thinking about succession and is simply good business practice.  The people at Transition Guides have a nice template I recommend in their Emergency Succession Planning Workbook (

*Next, and most importantly, invest in the development of your staff team!  This is a difficult thing for some organizations to justify when budgets are so tight, but I will suggest that there has never been a more important time to make sure that you are developing your leadership pipeline.  The younger people on your staff are going to be called upon sooner than you think to step up – and they need developmental opportunities now to help prepare them.

Make sure that your organization will have the leadership it needs to make a Mission Impact in the future by preparing for change and investing in Your Leadership Pipeline.

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment