I know founders sometimes get a bad rap but as Carrie Bradshaw might ask- “Where would we be without founders?” I spent most of my year serving as the Interim Executive Director at a founder lead organization in New York’s Hudson River Valley with some of the most renowned leaders and teachers in the field of mindfulness, contemplation and social change. Founders are driven with a passion to do things differently and they create new movements and bring fresh approaches to solving difficult problems.
This year I enjoyed working with founders at two organizations. In one case we eased the organization and its board away from its founders to its explicit goal of hiring professional and lasting leadership. Here is some of what I did:
- Involved the founders in important and appropriate ways (fundraising, board building, making connections, telling their story)
- Modeled effective leadership with the staff
- Created a collaborative leadership team,
- Involved the board in redefining its governance responsibilities, and
- Gained agreement on the attributes sought in their new Executive Director.
This process took months, but when the search began, the board was re-energized.
Meanwhile the staff worked tirelessly to insure the programs were productive, which produced a successful year for the organization, even with a leadership transition. As a result, all were prepared to embrace the new executive director when she arrived.