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New CEOs and Culture Change

Have you read our article in Associations Now about new CEOs dealing with organizational culture yet?

New CEOs have a golden opportunity to embark on the difficult work of changing organizational culture. But it doesn’t last forever. These four lessons from CEOs who have been there can help others seize the day.

Imagine you’ve just been hired as a new association CEO or executive director. No doubt you participated in extensive interviews with key staff and reviewed qualitative and quantitative data that the organization shared with you during the CEO search process, so you’ve got at least a high-level familiarity with the organization you are going to lead.

But, from the moment you are hired, you will inevitably begin with that awkward and sometimes frustrating period of learning, where you and the organization spend some time feeling each other out. This is where you both discover the difference between what you thought you were getting into and what is, in fact, the truth.

[…]For a new CEO, the question becomes “How much do I try to change?” Change is not easy, and culture change has its own specific challenges, so you don’t want to end up biting off more than you can chew. On the other hand, the door for change seems to open automatically when a new CEO takes over, and it will eventually close, which means change may be much harder to initiate later on. You don’t want to miss your opportunity.

We interviewed a number of CEOs who worked through some tough culture-change initiatives in their first few years on the job to get some insights into how they managed this complicated and dynamic time in a CEO’s tenure. Their stories, combined with our own experience helping organizations through culture change, yield four important tips for navigating the process.

Read the rest here.  And contact me ( if you are a new CEO (or have one) and want some help figuring out how to manage the transition from the culture you’re inheriting to the one you want to build.


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