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What to Do When You've Lost an Executive Position

The departure of an executive is disruptive. Whether through a decision on the part of the company, employee, or a tragic loss, There is bound to be a dose of stress and uncertainty associated with the transition. In the midst of the fluidity, here are four solid tips.

  • Activate your interim plan. It is important to anticipate this possibility in advance so that you have a clear procedure in place. Take some time at your next board meeting to solidify a contingency plan for an unexpected opening.

  • Choose your search committee carefully. Be strategic with the individuals you select to be a part of the search committee. Be attuned to diverse representation to provide a multiplicity of perspectives. Once you’ve selected your search committee, keep lines of communication open to ensure the process is progressing and they have all the resources they need.

  • Be patient. Don’t sacrifice quality in an effort to fill the position quickly. It is understandable to want the instability and ambiguity of an executive absence to be over as quickly as possible, but bear in mind that, if you select the right candidate, they will be with your organization for years–even decades. A process that lasts months is a worthwhile investment in the future health of the company.

  • Appreciate your board. When there is an executive vacancy, boards often have to step up and put in additional time on additional tasks. Take time to appreciate them for their time and effort in the process.

While an executive loss can be an unwelcome change, it is an opportunity for the organization to grow in fresh ways. As you deal with the tasks of an executive search, don’t lose sight of the goal of a capable leader who will continue the vision while bringing new energy and insight.