Four Ways An ED Can Equip Their Team for Transition: An Employee's Perspective

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In April 2013, Vantage Point launched the search for our next executive director. Follow this blog series to learn about our recruitment process and discover tips for leading a process of your own. This post is the first of two on a salaried employee’s perspective.

It’s been approximately 12 weeks since our captain of 14 years, Colleen Kelly, left the helm of the ship at Vantage Point. I’m often asked by colleagues outside the organization: how are things going without Colleen?

Good question. 

The truth is, it doesn’t feel all that different. Without having the chance to reflect, I might have gone through my day to day work without actually realizing why this is a legacy of great leadership.

When Colleen announced her retirement, I had a lot of fear. Fear of new dynamics changing our cohesive leadership team. Fear that all the positive momentum we had built would grind to a halt. Fear of losing sight of our vision and mission.

None of that happened. Colleen made sure of it by thoughtfully and intentionally building strong continuity of leadership in 4 key ways:

1.    Providing the leadership team with opportunities to “flex” our leadership muscles with opportunities for shared leadership, leading the board, and even the organization (as in the case of Maria Turnbull’s year in the role of Associate Executive Director in 2011);

2.    Having someone always in the “passenger seat” so no organizational knowledge or relationships resided only with the executive director;

3.    Focusing on clear processes followed with consistency to ensure everyone understands “how” work gets done;

4.    A team of “seasoned” knowledge philanthropists with expertise and wisdom to support board and the interim executive director  through the transition phase. From HR advisors, to leadership coaches, to past board chairs, this group is a significant asset that brings outside perspective with depth of internal knowledge.

We are sailing ahead at full speed and we haven’t hit rough waters yet. Colleen equipped us with the tools for a smooth journey: a good map, excellent sailing skills, a few strong navigators, and some life jackets (just in case!).

Now it’s up to us to determine the journey we want to take over the coming months (and years). This is what feels different with our new captain. It feels exciting.

Stay tuned for part two – a look ahead to how our Interim Executive Director, Maria Turnbull, is preparing us for the journey ahead. 

About the Author

Annastasia Forst contributed her creative and analytic work ethic (not an oxymoron) to Vantage Point as a past Director of Learning. She is passionate about working with many talented knowledge philanthropists to develop, deliver and evaluate Vantage Point’s board and executive leadership...
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