We continually find that there is a profound distinction between management and leadership, and the profiles differ markedly when selecting a chief executive.

When recruiting a chief executive for a nonprofit organization, search committees often limit their expectations to how the role can be continued without making waves. Inherently, they focus on keeping the status quo, and either promote internal managers or hire external candidates who have not developed nor demonstrated the competencies to lead.

In our extensive experience with nonprofit organizations, we find that many organizations are over-managed and under-led, resulting in unmotivated employees without a clear or compelling vision.

In the process of assessing talent for a leadership change, it is important to keep the expectations of management and leadership quite distinct — if the board wants the next chief executive to create new ideas, new approaches and new methodologies.

  • Good managers are tactically adept at overseeing resources through planning and organizing the operations of the organization.
  • Great leaders are strategically adept, and, inspire shared vision, enable others to act, model the way and encourage commitment.

Today’s changing economic and social environment demands leaders that promote trust and involvement by clarifying reasons for decisions about direction, compensation and organizational strategy. Nothing is more central to a dynamic organization than its capacity to cope with complexity, ambiguity, uncertainty and change. In the era of rapid change, it is imperative for a nonprofit organization to be more future-oriented and more concerned with selecting the proper direction and most capable leader.

To ensure sustainability, chief executives have to be capable of dealing with problems and issues that demand courage, decisiveness and action. The significance of making waves is a critical factor to explore in the process of leadership change.