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Identifying the Characteristics and Competencies Executive Directors Need to Lead Human Service Organizations in Today’s Operating Environment: What Boards Need to Know for Succession Planning

Trevor Hunter, Barbara Decker-Pierce


Executive directors, senior managers, and board chairs of organizations operating in the nonprofit human service sector have different expectations regarding the characteristics and competencies needed for future organizational leaders. We asked current organizational leaders to describe the characteristics and competencies needed for a future executive director. The responses suggest that future leaders will need different skills than those of current leaders, that the most likely candidate pool for successors is not there, and that boards of directors are unaware of these realities in their (lack of) succession planning.

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nonprofit; human service; succession planning; leadership; education

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