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Article Published: 15 Sep 2019

Transitioning to a New Role

A number of general director positions are open across the country, and board committees are at work to find dynamic leaders to guide their companies into the future. When the chairs of these “search committees” contact me to get advice, I am quick to suggest new terminology: Change “search” to “transition.”

Why a “transition committee”? Selecting the new head of the company is one thing. But board members should devote just as much time to welcoming, orienting, introducing and settling the new general director in his or her new position. Even if the person who gains the top position is local, trustees should take the lead in making appointments to introduce the new general director to community leaders, corporate CEOs and major patrons. If the appointee is new to town, has she or he found a suitable apartment or house, a convenient health club, good restaurants and, if appropriate, a school for children or house of worship? Being introduced and integrated into the community, professionally and personally, can be as important to success as the skillset the new general director brings to the job.

This level of attention to the well-being of the general director should carry forward beyond the inaugural year of service. The position is a demanding one, and board members should monitor the condition of their general directors beyond the immediate business imperatives that define success. Retention and performance will go up when board members exhibit sincere interest in the overall happiness and health of the company’s leader.

This article was published in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Across the Board, a publication of OPERA America for opera company trustees.