Case Study

Founder Transition in a Family Run Organization

The Challenge

For over 50 years, the founder of the client organization built a vibrant literary association with the help of a close friend and industry influencers. Organically, the organization grew until it reached 20,000+ members and boasted chapters worldwide. Despite the growth, the organization remained connected to the founder, with decision-making power closely held by a few individuals. Over the years, the world changed, but the organization maintained its legacy leadership, ad hoc operations, and personality-led approach. When a crisis around transparency and equity triggered the founder’s early retirement, her daughter-in-law was next in line for the Executive Director role. While the new ED was highly qualified for the role, the promotion was complicated by external critique, split loyalties within the board and advisory council, the outgoing ED’s new staff position, and interpersonal dynamics between the ED and her mother-in-law.

What We Did / Results

Conscient Strategies and our partners Axle were brought in to help usher the new ED through a tumultuous leadership transition and set the organization on a new course. With a combination of advisory support, coaching, conflict mediation, and strategic support, we were able to help the ED stabilize the organization, transition legacy leadership and, in time, calm the relationship with the founder.

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