Home » The Benefactor Blog » Leadership Transition FAQ

Leadership Transition FAQ

Why is leadership transition so important?

Identifying and recruiting the leadership most suitable to your mission and culture is
critical to a successful future. Changes in leadership are pivotal occasions and may
be leveraged to build capacity and advance the sustainability and impact of your

What is involved in leadership transition?

An experienced professional will help navigate the challenging period of transition by
providing a continuum of services—from helping to prepare the organization for
transition, to hiring and supporting a newly arrived leader(s). Services include
succession planning, executive search, transition management, and

What is succession planning?

This is a process that may be used for executive staff or board leaders. It is best
developed and implemented long before a leadership change is anticipated, but in
occasional, more urgent situations it is done to meet short-term requirements.
Succession planning typically falls into three categories: emergency succession,
defined succession, and leadership development.
• Emergency Succession planning ensures that key activities, organization
functions, and services continue with the least possible disruption in the
emergency absence of a staff leader(s).
• Defined Succession planning provides a timeline and services for a period of
transition—from the early discussions about leadership change with staff and
board to onboarding a highly qualified executive—which may take 18 to 30
months. Services include comprehensive review of the organization’s current
status and culture; identification of essential job functions for new leadership,
including required competencies and evaluation; development of a succession
plan document; refinement of job descriptions for executive and acting executive
positions; review of competitive compensation levels; candidate identification and
selection; and successful integration into the role, the organization, and the
• Leadership Development is a systematic approach to reviewing functions, key
activities, and required competencies for effective leadership. The result is
personal development plans for the organization’s staff leaders and principal
board members. The process also helps develop a pool of talent for succession
in the key organizational positions.

Of course, each organization’s needs are unique and a customized approach to
succession planning may involve a hybrid of these three approaches.

What is included in the executive search?

Using advanced expertise and knowledge of the nonprofit sector, the consultant will
help you develop a diverse and highly qualified pool of prospective candidates for
your leadership position(s) and assist you in selecting a leader who will help advance
your organization’s vision and mission. The search process is typically organized into
three phases.

The preparation phase includes:
• development of a comprehensive job profile, including—organizational culture,
leadership history, required qualifications (education, experience, and
certification); competency requirements;
• conducting a competitive compensation review; and
• creating a realistic and productive recruitment plan.

Selection includes the following activities:
• creation of effective advertising and posting;
• actively sourcing qualified candidates;
• development of customized selection tools:
• reviewing resumes and conducting a comprehensive screening of candidates;
• conducting a thorough candidate vetting process.

Once the top candidates have been identified, the consultant will assist the
organization with the hiring activities:
• background check;
• final candidate selection;
• notification management; and
• offer letter and/or employment agreement.

What is transition management?

The smooth transition into a leadership position is crucial to the new executive and
the organization. To achieve this, your transition specialist will provide guidance to
manage risk and to be proactive through a comprehensive and planned strategy for
the process. From the current executive’s departure to the arrival and orientation of
the new leader may require six to 12 months.

A full executive transition management process may include succession planning
and executive search as well as leadership development for interims and newly
arrived executives; it may require up to 30 months.

How does Executive Transition Management differ from traditional executive search?

Executive Transition Management (ETM) includes search and selection as one
component but includes a much more comprehensive process and approach to

leadership change. More time is spent at the beginning of the process to ensure that
the organization is ready for the transition. In addition, more time is spent helping
both the organization and the new executive after the executive is hired. It is the
preparation and the change management processes that help the organization
achieve maximum potential and growth as a result of an executive transition.

How does leadership transition contribute to sustainability?

Planning and effectively managing an executive transition assists the organization in
assessing vision, mission, direction, infrastructure, and systems. This proactive
process also supports enhancement of organizational strengths and the capacity to
accomplish your mission and objectives successfully into the future.

How much do services cost?

Fees and expenses vary. Succession planning, executive search, transition
management, and sustainability services may be provided individually or as a suite
of services. Please call Benefactor Group; we are happy to talk with you about your
individual situation.

What benefits should we expect?

Professional engagement will provide you with the information you need to make
appropriate decisions for interim and new organizational staff and board leadership.
The benefits of a carefully managed transition include:
• opportunities for the board to assess organizational vision, mission, and
• opportunities to assess leadership competency requirements (current and
• a forum for a deliberate and effective selection and hiring process;
• development of a positive relationship between the new leader, the board, and
• creation of an overall leadership development plan;
• increased morale; and
• a strengthened organization (structure, finances, productivity, and services).

How do we pick a transition specialist?

Usually an organization starts identifying firms by talking to peers, consulting
professional directories, or conducting a web search. If your organization plans to
conduct a formal search, then an RFP (request for proposal) may be sent to the firms.
A small committee may review the proposals and select two to four firms for final
interviews. In other cases, a nonprofit’s leaders hold informal discussions with a few
firms and move forward with the one that seems best suited to their needs.

Benefactor Group is happy to discuss your specific situation and help you determine the
best services to support your leadership transition. Contact us here.

has more than 25 years of human resources management experience in both the public and private industry sectors.

Email Signup

We take your privacy seriously. We do not sell or share your data. We use it to enhance your experience with our site and to analyze the performance of our marketing efforts. To learn more read our privacy policy.