Ep 97: The Telltale Signs of Founder Syndrome (Part 2) with Rachael Gibson

by Joan Garry

The founder of your organization is leaving and you’re coming in as the new leader. How do you follow a founder and be successful?


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The founder of your organization is leaving and you’re coming in as the new leader. How do you successfully follow a founder?

Should founders stay involved? Can it ever work? What backwork needs to be done to agree on and properly navigate the journey of change.

What role does a Board/CEO leadership agenda play? And how does the resulting partnership affect the success of the new leader?

Board search committees need a smart approach as they unpack the skillsets, attributes and values that need to be embodied in the new leadership team. Perhaps the search is not for founder 2.0 but it is important to identify what the organization cannot afford to lose when the founder leaves.

Here in part 2 of our series on founder syndrome and transition planning, Rachael Gibson, change management consultant for nonprofit organizations and philanthropic institutions who specializes in founder transitions answers a host of questions to help your transition go smoothly. This podcast does a great job of teasing out the potential pitfalls and help strengthen your organization at a truly pivotal time.

About Rachael Gibson

Rachael serves as a practice leader and senior consultant for executive search, leadership transition planning and organizational strategy engagements. Rachael is a skilled change management consultant for nonprofit organizations and philanthropic institutions. Rachael has a particular expertise in working with organizations led by founders and long-tenured executives.

In prior roles, Rachael managed grant making programs and spearheaded numerous capacity building initiatives, including ones aimed at deepening the leadership development opportunities for nonprofit leaders, strengthening the back office systems for nonprofit organizations and evaluating the effectiveness of advocacy efforts. Rachael also developed a national coaching program for leaders of color and led multiple capacity building and evaluation projects for various government agencies. She has facilitated numerous collective action initiatives and led large program evaluation projects for grant making entities aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of their programs.

In addition to her management consulting expertise, Rachael has facilitated diversity and leadership development trainings, served on various nonprofit boards and task forces, and presented workshops at local and national conferences. She served on the board of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management. Rachael is also an Adjunct Professor at the Chicago School for Professional Psychology where she teaches Masters level students interested in the field of consulting and organizational development She received a Master’s Degree in Community and Urban Planning from the University of Maryland, College Park.

In this podcast

  • Landmines and opportunities of following a founder
  • Selecting the best candidate out of a mediocre lot: is it ever acceptable?
  • When hunger for change creates pressure to make changes to quickly
  • What kind of role does emotional intelligence play and how does it compare to academic knowledge?
  • The importance of the relationship between the CEO and board chair
  • Board CEO leadership agenda
  • Why you need a diverse pool of candidates
  • Plan ahead! This is not a surprise. So much counts on a smooth transition.