Ep. 23 – Founder Transition – Insights from a Founder

Tom Adams, Director at Raffa, discusses his personal journey throughout his career as well as the insight he has gained in this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast. Moderated by Karen Schuler, Managing Director at Raffa, the two discuss the critical value of leadership development and transition.

Towards the beginning of the conversation, Tom recognizes that one of the takeaways from this line of work has been that “so many people care about the work that they’re doing.” He identifies the importance of individuals giving their time to their cause. He also makes a point that it is important to “take a breath, slow down, and don’t rush to hire.” The importance of thinking methodically about your next executive is imperative.

Karen and Tom continue the discussion by analyzing the value of succession planning. They cover topics such as the occasional false interpretation by CEOs and executive directors as well as how long tenured and founder transitions may differ than others. Tom gives insight on how he has handled challenging conversations as well as how to address the timing around one’s transition.

Nearing the end of the conversation, Tom discusses his own epiphanies throughout his journey. He notes that it is “one thing to talk about and another to do it” in reference to transitioning out of one’s organization. He also addresses the “emotional dimensions” of the act of transitioning and reveals the largest lesson: one may “have all the knowledge in the world, but your head and gut will lead the parade.”

Finally, Tom leaves the reader with the idea that “endings lead to beginnings.” He notes William Bridges idea of the “neutral zone” – where individuals “are off balance and confused.” Tom recommends thinking of things that you find exciting and taking the time to do them. He suggests that one should “change your behaviors to head into new beginnings.”

For more regarding this topic, check out the November podcast Nonprofit Executive Transitions: Insights on Success and listen to all of our other podcasts.

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