Point & Counterpoint



Here are two viewpoints on a topic that impacts the overall effectiveness of leaders in a social benefit culture. This isn’t a debate – it’s a dialogue from the perspectives of two experienced leaders. The goal is to provide different perspectives to stimulate creative thinking and bring leaders into a new paradigm of functioning, not to provide final answers.

Leaders are at the heart of transition. Equipping ourselves first is key to the success of transitions.

Musical Conductor, Leadership Coach

Hugh Ballou is a Transformational Leadership Strategist, President of SynerVision International, Inc., and was a musical conductor for 40 years. Hugh has written numerous books on Transformational Leadership and works with leaders of religious organizations, business and nonprofit communities as an executive coach, process facilitator, trainer, and motivational speaker, teaching leaders the fine-tuned skills employed every day by orchestral conductors.

Executive Coach, Human Capital Developer

Jeffrey Magee (Ph.D., PDM, CSP, CMC) is the “Thought Leader’s Leader.” He is a columnist, the publisher of Professional Performance 360 Magazine, editor of Performance Execution and Performance Driven Selling blogs, a former nationally-syndicated radio talk show host, published author, and recipient of the USJC TOYA award. A motivational leadership speaker, he is one of the most sought-after keynote speakers in the world.

What Kinds of Transitions Do Leaders Manage?

Establishing New Leadership Values: Leaders new to an organization want to add their gifts to building the promise for the future and live out the reason they were hired; however, change can be counterproductive if done too soon and without sensitivity to what people value and want left as is.
Preparing for Succession in Retirement: The founder must leave a legacy for the future. For good succession, there must be a plan and the culture must understand the process goals.
Performance Upgrade Transition: Let go of low-performing systems and people in order to access new competencies. Transition can be energizing or detrimental, depending on the leader.

Culture: The leader safeguards the current organizational culture and stewards its shaping to maintain relevance.
Talent: Handle considerations from acquisition, on-boarding, development, calibration, growth, succession, and re-integration of human capital from the organization back into the communities from which it began.
Eco-System: The leader owns a strong ROI from how the organization serves the community and everything delivered or distributed, so it can remain healthy for its constituents (shareholders, donors, employees, and clients) and forward focused in all it does. This transcends generational, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic, workplace dynamics, traditional and e-commerce implications, and how the organizational footprint affects those around them.

What Are the Challenges in Leading Transition?

Patience: We are leaders. We see the future and want to be there. Managing ourselves, our stress, our expectations, will allow others to catch up with us. We still see the future, but with patience of nurture in leading others.
Managing Conflict: There will always be conflict where people are. Leaders sometimes cause additional conflict. Conflict escalates when not addressed promptly and calmly. Fear, insecurity, secrets, and confusion add anxiety, which in turn adds more conflict. Leaders cause or add to the anxiety with emotional decisions, or calm things with thoughtful decisions.
Establishing Trust: Trust is essential for transition. Building trusted relationships is at the heart of leadership, communications, and financial results. It’s also at the heart of establishing new systems and improving old habits into effective processes.

Buy-In: Leaders must be mindful of how differing constituents are served and affected by transitions and challenges, so everyone remains focused on the endgame, and not distracted by agendas that can derail the long-term health and vitality for a short-term need.
Variant Factors: The obvious must be considered in dealing with transition: resources, time, financials, technical, user interface to administer change, human capital realities, market needs-acceptance-tolerance, and goals of key experts needed to carry out the transition and create the new normal.

What Key Areas Must Leaders Grow Personally to Effectively Lead Transitions?

The primary area of personal growth is knowing and managing self. The most effective leaders are avid readers and have a personal coach in addition to a peer-to-peer support group. Effective leaders consistently work on skills and systems. Those who stop growing are dangerous to themselves and others.

Leaders have a strong sense of self, and the confidence, courage, commitment, and passion to execute what is right, even when others around them would have them implode.

Why Is Transition a Key Leadership Priority?

Life is never static. Change is inevitable. Leaders embrace change as the essential element in transitions. Identifying transitions in advance and know-how to manage tactics and lead people through the process is the top priority of a leader.

Welcome to the new normal. The leader must welcome, embrace, and lead change or, even better, build an organization awaiting change when it appears, and leverage their role as the leader, creator, and owner of transitions and change.


This article is reprinted from Issue #9 of Nonprofit Performance Magazine. Subscribe today so that you won’t miss other actionable articles that will help you run your nonprofit organization with less pain and more gain!

Join Hugh Ballou and Russell Dennis and their guests on our weekly Tuesday afternoon Nonprofit Exchange at 2 pm Eastern time.
If you already have a nonprofit or are thinking of starting one, this will be very helpful. Put it on your calendar NOW! It’s a session that you don’t want to miss! Discover what’s blocking your success!
The Nonprofit Exchange on Tuesdays at 2 pm ET has been quite beneficial for many participants and we have enjoyed sharing thoughts and tips for moving past the stuck places we all find in leading an organization to achieving its mission.
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As the famous British Composer and Conductor Ralph Vaughan Williams once said, “Music does not reveal all of its secrets to just one person.” If you replace the word “Music” with the word “Leadership” or “Team” or “Strategy” etc., then we all give and receive value from others. That’s the spirit of the Tuesday afternoon Nonprofit Exchange encounters, sponsored by SynerVision Leadership Foundation’sCommunity for Community Builders.”

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