Recruiters
September 11, 2020

The Hiring of New Organizational Leaders: The Good and the Bad

Taking the ranks for a new leadership position will have your staff wondering what your intentions are. This is especially the case for smaller, mission driven organizations.

Especially for smaller organizations and mission-driven non-profits a handful of employees, the leader or founder is oftentimes a big deal. They are the ones who founded an organization because of their previous mission work in a developing country, or the ones who have been passionate about a discipline, skill, or sport for basically their whole lives. And they are the ones who have managed to transform their passion in a particular area to actually form a business model and then lead a team. No easy task. If anything, such organizational leaders tend to be flattering to the rest of their employees.

Everyone associates the worth of the organization to be synonymous with the person who started it,  and in short, these individuals serve as not just organizational leaders, but role models that embody the best qualities for leading a team.

But with every special mission-driven organization, leaders come and go. Changemakers take up new jobs and become part of new boards and so on. The process is ordinary, but at the same time surprising for employees who have come to know their organization by the familiar face of a founder or leader. That’s why picking a new leader is so crucial. The whole image of the company has to be renegotiated and re-imagined.

As such, there are many important considerations to accept when picking someone new. Their new image, history, and experience will resonate loudly with the rest of the team who will be quick to judge the transplant as they try to piece together the meaning behind the switch. Here are some pros and cons as they relate to the new hire:

Pros:

  • The new leader has a similar history or work experience (such as working in a developing country that pertains to an organizations discipline) and makes them suitable for picking up where the old leader has left
  • The new leader finally represents a specialization (such as monitoring and evaluation) that has been so desperately need in one of the organizational programs
  • The new leader is extroverted and makes the team feel relieved that there is some fresh energy in the building
  • The new leader is able to create or negotiate partnerships the founder wasn’t able to do either because of a difference of philosophy or a better outlook on new players in the field

Cons:

  • The new leader has a different background than what was expected from current employees, creating confusion and a total derailing of principles the organization was founded on
  • The new leader is close with seniors or executives on the team but has less of a working relationship with entry-level employees that the older founder didn’t take for granted
  • The new leader is less democratic when making decisions on behalf of his/her entire team

The Role of a Changing Narrative

In both the pros and cons listed, a commonality remains—a sense of narrative is incredibly important for organizations and for the core teams who depend on this narrative to make sense out of their careers as well. If this narrative is threatened or changed suddenly, it might ripple throughout the organization and have adverse effects on various team members who question where they are working.  

This effect is amplified by social media and online platforms where we can see what people who may have moved into new careers or positions are doing with their lives. For example, when Andrew Yang decided to step down from Venture for America and run in the 2020 Presidential campaign, the new leader of the organization decided to cut the cord on Yang. It was not a move made because Yang was a bad boss, but rather because it would have been confusing for employees. Accordingly, Yang stepped off of the board, and the new leader of the organization went so far as to build communications firewalls between VFAs office and his new one. This was a strategic decision meant to keep a consistent narrative, even if Yang was becoming a prominent political candidate (which he was).

In this sense, one thing new leaders can do is to learn from their predecessors, but still be confident enough to take the ranks for their inherited position. Some things to consider when taking up such a role are generating feedback and gaining insights from how current employees feel with regard to pressing matters, as well as trying to innovate and upgrade processes so that the narrative of the organization might be slightly altered, but still productive and full of fruitful potential.

TagsOrganizational LeadersEmployeesMission-driven
Michael Robbins
Writer
Michael is a writer that helps organizations align their mission and values to a wide audience.

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RecruitersSeptember 11, 2020
The Hiring of New Organizational Leaders: The Good and the Bad
Taking the ranks for a new leadership position will have your staff wondering what your intentions are. This is especially the case for smaller, mission driven organizations.

Especially for smaller organizations and mission-driven non-profits a handful of employees, the leader or founder is oftentimes a big deal. They are the ones who founded an organization because of their previous mission work in a developing country, or the ones who have been passionate about a discipline, skill, or sport for basically their whole lives. And they are the ones who have managed to transform their passion in a particular area to actually form a business model and then lead a team. No easy task. If anything, such organizational leaders tend to be flattering to the rest of their employees.

Everyone associates the worth of the organization to be synonymous with the person who started it,  and in short, these individuals serve as not just organizational leaders, but role models that embody the best qualities for leading a team.

But with every special mission-driven organization, leaders come and go. Changemakers take up new jobs and become part of new boards and so on. The process is ordinary, but at the same time surprising for employees who have come to know their organization by the familiar face of a founder or leader. That’s why picking a new leader is so crucial. The whole image of the company has to be renegotiated and re-imagined.

As such, there are many important considerations to accept when picking someone new. Their new image, history, and experience will resonate loudly with the rest of the team who will be quick to judge the transplant as they try to piece together the meaning behind the switch. Here are some pros and cons as they relate to the new hire:

Pros:

  • The new leader has a similar history or work experience (such as working in a developing country that pertains to an organizations discipline) and makes them suitable for picking up where the old leader has left
  • The new leader finally represents a specialization (such as monitoring and evaluation) that has been so desperately need in one of the organizational programs
  • The new leader is extroverted and makes the team feel relieved that there is some fresh energy in the building
  • The new leader is able to create or negotiate partnerships the founder wasn’t able to do either because of a difference of philosophy or a better outlook on new players in the field

Cons:

  • The new leader has a different background than what was expected from current employees, creating confusion and a total derailing of principles the organization was founded on
  • The new leader is close with seniors or executives on the team but has less of a working relationship with entry-level employees that the older founder didn’t take for granted
  • The new leader is less democratic when making decisions on behalf of his/her entire team

The Role of a Changing Narrative

In both the pros and cons listed, a commonality remains—a sense of narrative is incredibly important for organizations and for the core teams who depend on this narrative to make sense out of their careers as well. If this narrative is threatened or changed suddenly, it might ripple throughout the organization and have adverse effects on various team members who question where they are working.  

This effect is amplified by social media and online platforms where we can see what people who may have moved into new careers or positions are doing with their lives. For example, when Andrew Yang decided to step down from Venture for America and run in the 2020 Presidential campaign, the new leader of the organization decided to cut the cord on Yang. It was not a move made because Yang was a bad boss, but rather because it would have been confusing for employees. Accordingly, Yang stepped off of the board, and the new leader of the organization went so far as to build communications firewalls between VFAs office and his new one. This was a strategic decision meant to keep a consistent narrative, even if Yang was becoming a prominent political candidate (which he was).

In this sense, one thing new leaders can do is to learn from their predecessors, but still be confident enough to take the ranks for their inherited position. Some things to consider when taking up such a role are generating feedback and gaining insights from how current employees feel with regard to pressing matters, as well as trying to innovate and upgrade processes so that the narrative of the organization might be slightly altered, but still productive and full of fruitful potential.

Organizational Leaders
Employees
Mission-driven
About the author
Michael Robbins -Writer
Michael is a writer that helps organizations align their mission and values to a wide audience.

Related Articles