Checklist: Selecting the next chief executive

By governance expert Ruth Lesirge

Ruth Lesirge
Ruth Lesirge

When chief executives move on, they tend to leave in their wake a spectrum of emotions among trustees, ranging from shock to dismay or even relief.

Finding the next leader of your organisation is one of the most significant tasks facing your board. Whatever the trustees' feelings, it is their responsibility to appoint the next chief executive.

This can be a daunting task and some trustees might feel the need for specialist help, having neither the time nor the expertise for the process. As a result, boards often seek professional recruiters to work on their behalf.

Other boards believe they know the organisation's culture and values and are therefore best placed to appoint. Alternatively, they might be anxious about the potential cost of outsourcing the work.

Obviously, there is no one right answer, but I suggest trustees reflect not only on the cost in money, but also in the time and emotional energy required. If you have limited amounts of either, consider whether they would be better applied to communicating with your staff.

They are the ones who need to keep working, despite regret or worry about losing their leader and acquiring a new one.

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