Are Your Leaders Playing the Right Roles?

How is your think tank’s organizational self-awareness? Are your leaders still playing the right roles to help the organization succeed? Assessing those questions can be a challenge, but it is necessary, says Jeffrey Cain:

As an organization develops, its leaders often fail to understand how their roles need to change. In its infancy, an organization’s CEO may wear many hats: senior policy analyst, chief development officer, operations manager, even events coordinator. Over time, however, the CEO must come to see his or her role not as the person with a finger in the pudding of every project, but as the person responsible for building the institution.

In this new role, the CEO need not personally raise every dime, but he does need to put into place the institutional mechanisms—the staff, policies, and procedures—for a successful development program. The CEO must, in other words, become a planner and delegator. This is a difficult transition for many founders and even long-time CEOs, as the history of many now-forgotten organizations attests.

Nevertheless, as the chief executive of a growing organization, tasking other people with responsibilities and giving them the freedom to succeed (and fail) is the very definition of management. [SPN News, May/June 2014]

Boards of directors need to ask these kinds of questions about their roles, too, says Cain.