‘Leadership tussles are the death knell for many charity mergers’

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Charity chief executives who are "fuelled by personal ambition and egos" can often be a block on merging with other organisations, experts have said. 

In an article published today on Civil Society Voices, Richard Litchfield, chief executive of Eastside Primetimers, and Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said that tension between chief executives over who should lead a newly merged organisation could be a barrier to mergers. They suggested ways to avoid the problem.

"Leadership tussles fuelled by personal ambition and egos are the death knell of more and better mergers," they wrote. 

In the article they say that there are no figures about how many times leadership disputes have "thwarted organisations from undertaking mergers", but that when mergers do happen it is often because a chief executive has decided to move on.

Litchfield and Browning suggest that talking about the future leadership early on in merger talks on was important. 

They also said that they should consider “innovative ways to embrace and support outgoing leaders” such as “golden handshake” severance deals used to enable CEO exits in the private sector.

They wrote: “Although controversial, some funders are supportive of enhanced exit payments allowing chief executives personal breathing space as they juggle seeing through a merger and seeking a new job, removing a disincentive to mergers that can have real social and strategic value.” 

Litchfield and Browning concluded: “What’s clear is that outgoing CEOs have invaluable experience which makes them better leaders and can help others facing the same challenges in the future. How we support them and help them to share those lessons is critical for strengthening the environment for charity mergers.”

Read their article here.

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