Sabbaticals and Succession Planning for Nonprofit Leadership

13/09/2010 at 09:25 1 comment

Insightful foundation funders have provided support for nonprofit executives to take sabbaticals. Recently, CompassPoint published findings that sabbaticals can be “relatively inexpensive but highly productive capacity building tool that yields measurable results.” The report, Creative Disruption: Sabbaticals for Capacity Building and Leadership Development in the Nonprofit Sector can be found here.

The report debunks the myth that an executive sabbatical will disrupt an organization’s work. We know we need to take a break to reflect and plan. Putting off vacation doesn’t help. Some of us don’t take lunch, let alone vacation! What is that all about? Can we be at our best if we don’t take a break to reflect? Honestly, if things aren’t going well, to any extent, they won’t get worse because you took lunch or vacation…will they? I think we need to have better balance, including lunches, professional development, vacays and sabbaticals to keep us at our best.

For the short term, I believe getting out of the office allows others to step up. We must empower our Board, staff and volunteers to make decisions, think about their work, come up with solutions to challenges.

In the long-term vacations and sabbaticals are good opportunities to talk about succession planning. Ask some hard questions:

  • Really are any of us indispensible?
  • Do we need to lead ALL the time at our organizations?
  • Do we see ourselves at this organization for the next 5, 10, 25 years? Should we?

In 2006, CompassPoint published Daring to Lead a follow up the same report in 2001. Unfortunately, some of the findings are the same. (What’s the definition of insanity?)

“Three quarters of survey respondents (executive directors) — exactly the same percentage reported in Daring to Lead in 2001 — plan to leave their jobs within the next five years; 9% were already in the process of leaving. Despite the large number of executives contemplating transition, less than a third had discussed succession planning with their boards.”

So if we put these two reports together and start LEARNING and MAKING CHANGE – nonprofit leadership and organizations can serve their communities better.

Daring to Lead Findings:

  • Board of Directors and funders play a part in executive burnout (We need a strategic partnership!)
  • Executives seek new skills and strategies – concerned about organizational sustainability (Do I see a “sabbatical” in your future?)
  • Bench strength, diversity and competition are critical to future leaders (Succession planning!)

Creative Disruption Findings:

  • Executive Directors who took a sabbatical were more likely to stay at the organization longer
  • Board of Directors were more effective as a part of sabbatical planning
  • Better relationships between executives their staff, board, funders and community

Create a balance, take the time for vacation or go big and PLAN a sabbatical. Succession planning is key to the legacy you leave behind as a leader. Whether you are an Executive Director or Director of Development, Programs or Administration – how you lead and leave will speak volumes about your personal and professional development.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Entry filed under: Resources You Can Use!. Tags: , , , .

Kentucky State Fair Learning from my Fundraising Colleagues

1 Comment Add your own

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Beyond Melbourne

Food Travel Markets Artists

Annual Fund Lab

Sparking Ideas; Generating Conversation

Gippsland Unwrapped

Zero waste, plastic free and no palm oil. My life 'unwrapped' in Gippsland.

Just another site


Leaders Not Managers

Susan Sink

life on these 80 acres

The Net Naturalist

A field guide to social media.

Good By Choice

philanthropy. kindness. insights. observations

Pretty Prints & Paper

Using the bullet journal and calligraphy to cultivate an intentional life

Passion Themed Life

multi-passionate mom learning as i go


Life with Labs in Las Vegas

No Small Change

All things pertaining to communications, from the bunch of us at Barapani

Activate Learning Solutions

Learning Solutions that Activate Performance in Your Company

Clay Myers-Bowman

Producer, Photographer & Fundraising Consultant

Startups and Burritos

Mostly about startups but sometimes about burritos too.

Nonprofit Nate

Helping people help causes.

Talisman Thinking Out Loud

Philanthropy - Fundraising - Nonprofit Management

%d bloggers like this: