Have you defined who (on the board and on staff) would be notified in the event of a CEO transition? 

2Do you know who would lead the organization during a transition?

3Have you defined the roles and responsibilities for staff and board during a CEO transition?

4Have you identified a Transition Chair and documented her/his responsibilities in the event of a transition?

5Do you know who will run the search process? 

6Do you have a process in place to make sure the next payroll is issued without a hitch?

7Have you inventoried key legal and operational documents and know their location?

8Do you have a list of critical open / pending projects?

9Do you have an up-to-date job description for your current CEO that reflects your organization’s current needs?

10Does your organization have written goals?

11Does your board know what the organization needs to do to remain in legal compliance after a leadership change?

12Is your organization’s staff cross-trained to handle an extended CEO absence?

13Do you have a prepared list of who you need to contact and how to reach them in the event of a CEO transition?

14Do you have a written succession plan addressing questions 1-13?

15Has the organization documented the skills that your CEO needs to successfully lead your organization at this time? 

16Have you defined how you will strategically evaluate the organization before defining the skills and attributes the next CEO needs?

17Does your board have the right mix of talent to find, hire and successfully onboard a new CEO?

18Has your board agreed on whether or not to use an interim director and in which circumstances?

19Has the organization identified external assistance, if any, which may be necessary for a successful transition? (staffing, expertise, etc.)

20Has your board defined the circumstances in which severance pay will be awarded?

21Have you identified at least basic roles and responsibilities for on-boarding a new CEO?

22Has your board discussed whether internal candidates will be acceptable and how to handle their expectations?

23Do you have a written succession plan addressing questions 15-22?

24Do funders trust that your organization will continue to deliver your mission without your current CEO?

25Are your organization’s stakeholders committed to your mission or will they leave the organization when your CEO leaves?

26Do you have a budget identified and set-aside for an eventual CEO transition?

27Do you regularly evaluate your governance effectiveness and act to improve it?

28Do you have a current strategic plan?

29Have you done an organizational assessment within the last 18 months?

30Do you have a written succession plan addressing questions 24-29?

Succession Readiness Assessment

We've developed this simple assessment to help you look at your organization's readiness for a leadership transition and to help you consider what would help you keep your mission on track during that transition. 

Answer the questions below to determine how ready your organization is for a CEO transition of any sort. In an emergency or board-initiated transition, timing will be faster and you may not receive any assistance from your former CEO, but these questions do apply broadly to most leadership transitions. This is big list, but don’t feel overwhelmed by it.   We’ll tell you how to score your readiness at the basic, intermediate and best practice levels.  

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Questions 1-14 refer to basic succession readiness.  If you replied yes to at least 11 of the 14 questions, you organization is probably in pretty good basic shape to handle a transition.  There’s much more you can, and we think, should, do to prepare, but this is a good minimum readiness level.

Questions 15-23 refer to intermediate succession readiness.  If you replied yes to at least 6 of these 8 questions and to the basic questions, it’s clear that you’ve thought about the process to successfully bring in a new CEO.

Questions 24-30 refer to best practice readiness. If you replied to at least 6 of these 8 questions as well as to the basic and intermediate questions, your organization should be ready when the time comes to keep your mission on track while you find your next CEO.

It’s likely that you were able to reply yes to some questions at each the basic, intermediate and best practice levels.  Or you might also decide that your basic, or minimum, level includes some of the other more advanced questions.   Each organization requires a plan that’s as unique as the organization.

If you would like to explore how your organization can become more ready for succession, get in touch and let’s talk.