By Nancy Hardaway
When we first started our GISC newsletter, I kept a journal of what it was like to come on board as the new CEO and shared pieces of it in the newsletter, hoping to offer first-hand insight into the process of leadership transition. We value transparency in organizations and wanted to model it. As many of you already know, I have made a decision to end my tenure as CEO, so I want to again share my experience – of the process of deciding to leave, and of helping this organization through another transition.
Recently I was reviewing a compendium of our core teachings and came across a line that described my experience in coming to awareness that it was time for me to move on. “We follow the paradoxical theory of change, which encourages people to pay careful attention to what is going on in the present, before moving to change it in any way. “
Early last December I injured my arm falling on a patch of black ice, and spent a few days away from writing or computers. It occurred right around the 3 year anniversary of my first days in this role, so I spent some of my resting hours reflecting on all that has been accomplished by so many at GISC since December 2006. It was that process of exploring where we had been and where we are now that made me realize I had accomplished the goals I’d set out for myself and had been set by others for my work at GISC.
The goals I accomplished were all collective efforts. I was hired to move the organization through a transition from founder leadership to professional leadership. I was hired to create a marketing vision and to build our visibility in the world. I was hired to create financial and organizational sustainability. I was hired to expand our programs and faculty. I was asked to build GISC into a larger community with a gravitational that expanded well beyond our founders.
Some of these goals will continue to be out front of GISC leaders and others will be added, but I realized that the “unit of work” for which I had been hired was now complete. Then I had to reflect on what I wanted to accomplish next, both at GISC and in my life, and having faced a sudden family crisis this past year I was starting to think more personally. What and who mattered most in my life? What did I want to make sure I attended to? What was on my “bucket list” of things to do while I still have the energy, good health, and willingness to embark on adventure to do them?
Contemplating leaving GISC evoked so many memories of people I’ve met and come to love, of folks around the world I’ve learned from, of challenges that have helped me grow. I thought about our concept of co-creation – how we influence and are influenced and create our experiences together. Just as I have touched and changed GISC, so has GISC touched and changed me. I thought with grief of the losses I’d experience by leaving. But I cannot make space for something new without letting go of something.
With a decision made, it has been the work of the board to move forward to hire a new leader to take GISC on to its next stage of development. I have stayed on five months during this hiring process. With good will from all sides, we have been moving gracefully ahead. I have been focusing on the work of GISC as always, public speaking, filling programs, building visibility, etc. all the while preparing the staff, and leaving a history for the next leader.
I’ll finish with one last thought on change from our compendium of knowledge. “Change is a way of life that enables us to remain healthy and productive. “ I know that this change of role will not only create new opportunities for me but also for GISC. I look forward to watching the next phase.