• Clinton Dix, Ed.D.

    The article gives good suggestions for a transition but there are other things that could not only make the transition easier, but also make the organization more effective before the founder leaves.

    We are attracted to charismatic leadership. We may refer to it as personality, but most times it is precisely charisma that we are talking about. First, charisma is highly unstable as a basis for leadership. The examples mentioned in the article illustrate this. Things are going great, the leader leaves, things fall apart. What tends to happen is that processes and policies, both operational and governance, tend to form around the unique strengths of the charismatic leader. The leader leaves and they are no longer appropriate for the organization. They also calcify and become difficult to change, especially since they are associated with the leader and we don’t want to hurt his/her feelings.
    Processes and policies are both difficult and costly to change. When they are built originally around organizational values they can become both more effective and more enduring, thus, making leadership transitions easier.
    Second, it is the leader’s responsibility to prepare the organization for these transitions. While I will not say that all charismatic leaders lead with a “it’s all about me” attitude, anecdotal evidence makes it prevalent in our minds. By allowing a cult of personality to form within an organization the leader does the organization a disservice, and in the case of nonprofits, a disservice to the beneficiaries of the organization.
    Leadership, and an organization, functions more effectively when organizational processes and policies are “all about values” rather than about the leader.