Since you probably travel in similar circles as mine, you likely have had multiple conversations each time there has been a flurry of retirement announcements or nonprofit leader appointments during the past year.
Just in the past few weeks, we have seen numerous nonprofits, including United Way of Central Indiana, Newfields, Gleaners Food Bank, Lilly Endowment, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership, Indiana Sports Corp., Indy Humane, and Downtown Indy, announce new leaders.
We can reasonably assume that the pandemic contributed to the current rush in departures of many long-term leaders, either by deferring plans until a sense of stability returned or wearing leaders out. Each transition has its own story.
While I sense the expected anxiety about the departure of so much wisdom and experience, I am also feeling a sense of excitement that is coming with the “next generation” of leaders and how they will bring new ideas and approaches to many of our anchor nonprofits. I think we can safely assume that 2022 will be remembered for having the largest class of new leaders at anchor institutions in our community’s history.
Setting them up for success
As these new leaders get settled into their positions, our nonprofit community can take the following actions to help set them up success.
Welcome. While many new nonprofit leaders are local, we also have leaders, including Colette Pierce Burnette at Newfields and Donna Casamento of IndyHumane, who are joining our community with limited familiarity. Extend your congratulations and welcome to these leaders as they begin their new adventure.
Connect. New leaders are hired because of their skills and experience and often bring great networks with them. However, sometimes they are changing lanes and need to expand their networks. Look for opportunities to connect new leaders to other new leaders and other community leaders they may not know.
Partner. Meet these new leaders with an assumption of trust and goodwill. No organization can work effectively in isolation. New leaders may be working to build bridges and, in some cases, heal past fractions.
Show Grace. Most new leaders will try new things or old things in new ways. Give them encouragement, space and grace to try new paths, praise successes, and show understanding when things don’t work out as planned.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how we can support the new leaders in our community and we hope to be introducing you to many of them on our podcast in the months ahead. Bryan@CharitableAdvisors.com