Transition & interim stability

Interim executive coaching, consulting, and transition role fulfillment to ensure smooth stability and continuity

The Problem:

Most nonprofit organizations manage the transition time during the vacancy of their top executive leadership through temporary internal appointments. Either a board or a staff leader fills the role during the recruitment process.

Sometimes it works. Frequently, it doesn’t.

Here are some quotes from real problems and challenges in the nonprofit world:

“Our board roles during the interim period just weren’t clear—in retrospect that was a mistake. We ended up micro-managing the key staff players and the new staff executive inherited a frustrated and demoralized team. She got off to a really bad start. We could have prevented this.”  --Board President

“They appointed me as the acting executive director because I’ve been a key player here for years, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to ‘manage up’ to the Board. I wished someone could have helped me to learn those ropes faster and save a lot of grief for me and the organization.”  --Former Development Vice President


“I thought my years on the board and as a successful business leader gave me what I needed to temporarily lead our nonprofit while we searched for a permanent replacement. To my embarrassment, it didn’t turn out that way. We rushed the hiring process and the new executive director clearly could have been a better fit. Now we really have a mess to deal with—both with our staff and our funders.” --Board member

The Solution:

If you’re going to go with internal leadership during transition, you’re wise to protect your organization with an expert coaching and consulting partner. When people are right in the middle of a challenge, they’re often blinded by the obvious—that’s when outside expertise most matters. Invest in yourselves to increase your odds of getting it right the first time. Your organization’s fundraising, the morale of the team, and the confidence of the Board all improve when you bring in the right partner.

Mary Hanewall offers Interim Executive Coaching and Consulting. This service provides her expertise 4 – 8 hours a week for several months as a coach in the corner of the appointed interim leader and as a consultant to the Board. She works to assure both individuals pull together. Her successful fundraising, team building and board development experience add value to her working knowledge of interim nonprofit leadership. Interim Executive Coaching and Consulting also includes an upfront and confidential hotspot assessment. This non-invasive survey takes the temperature of perceptions of key internal stakeholders—both staff and Board.

How would Mary’s Interim Executive Coaching and Consulting partnership  work with your nonprofit?

Interim Executive Coaching and Consulting aids the nonprofit in two stages:

1) Hot spots assessment: (several days)

This happens quickly, before Mary implements any coaching or consulting and takes a total of 6-8 hours of the organization’s time over several days

Once you decide to work with Mary, she will conduct a confidential online assessment with 8 – 10 internal players from both staff and Board. This should happen quickly because most nonprofits without their top executive have realistic fears about being rudderless . This query of the organization’s key internal leaders provides Mary with valuable information to help her successfully coach the interim leader and advise the Board. It also is the key to transition players identifying the hot spots that must be extinguished.

And sometimes it delivers good news about the temporary status. Leadership changes are challenging, but they can translate improved stability to both internal and external stakeholders.

2) Coaching the interim leader while consulting with the Board. (12 – 24 weeks)

This is the heart of Mary’s interim support. Her goal is to provide the most important players—the interim leader and the corresponding board partner (often the board’s chair/president)—frank and thoughtful insight and guidance. Some matters can wait for the new executive, many cannot. Finding the right fit with the next executive leader takes sufficient input from key stakeholders, and it also takes patience. Mary can the help the Board and staff avoid a rushed and potentially misguided decision.

“I was board president when I recommended Mary and we worked closely together as she served as Interim Executive Director at Firefly Autism (a leading treatment center for children on the autism spectrum). She actually served as interim executive director twice, following unfortunate emergency circumstances that required her skills, action and devotion to help save the organization.”
— Gary Moore, past Board President of Firefly Autism