Listen to The Small Nonprofit podcast on your favourite platform:

real-life succession planning with Michael Prosserman

Also listen at: iTunesGoogle MusicStitcher

Succession planning - one of those things that leaders of organizations all know they need to do, but always have a difficult time to start. In some ways, succession planning is a vaguely defined bucket of work that even when one wants to get on it, it is hard to know when and where to begin.

This is why I am so excited to invite Michael Prosserman back on our podcast for the second time. Michael recently published a book detailing his insights from the 15 years of building and leading the UNITY Charity from spark to succession. On today’s podcast, he shares his personal learning in building organizational culture and systems that will be conducive to great succession planning.

Guess what? Succession planning starts here and now:

3 myths that Michael wants us to leave behind

  1. The “boss” has to know it all. Instead of perpetuating an unhealthy top-down power dynamic in your team, why not trust your team members ability to cocreate vision and work towards that vision together.

  2. If you trust people, there’s no need for good planning and systems. Planning a system for accountability is not a sign of lack of trust. Designing accountability works for your team that allow the organization to fall back to a good system or process is important for the sustainability of the organization.

  3. There is no point in taking risks that will fail. There is intrinsic value in taking risks, regardless of what the results are. That is, the person taking risk will garner the dignity of risk, feeling empowered and capable to see what could happen. When managing an organization, trusting people that they’re capable and will rise to the occasion is a good risk to take.

Michael’s tips on succession planning

  1. Show up authentically. Establish a long lasting culture that people feel comfortable to be their authentic selves and best selves at work. To do this, take the first step - show up authentically as a leader.

  2. Start today and start small. Don’t wait till you NEED to do succession planning to do it. That is already too late.

  3. Distance your ego from the process. Oftentimes working in nonprofits, we attach our personal identity to our work and our organization. Succession planning is not about you. Watch for your ego in the process and remember that good succession planning is an act of care for both yourself and your organization.

My favourite quotes from today’s episode

Post your favourite quote on our social!

Even if you're not planning succession, even if you have no timeline, you don't know when you're going to do it, start planning it today. Start planning it tomorrow." Don't wait until you need to do it, to do it, because by then, it's already too late.”

“Nonprofits live in a deficit mentality. Move from a deficit to an abundance mentality. It doesn't mean you have more money than you have by thinking that way. But if we viewed everything from: if someone else can do it, we can do it. If it's possible, legal, ethical, and it's the right thing to do, we are going to find a way to do it. We'll make it happen”

Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership


UNITY Charity

Check out Michael’s new book -- Building UNITY: Leading a Nonprofit from Spark to Succession

Don’t forget to check out Mike’s first episode with us: Navigating Growth with Michael Prosserman

The Small Nonprofit is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano