New Executive Directors or CEOs

After 2 years providing executive coaching, mentoring, and leadership development services as part of my consulting practice called Leaders 4 Futures LLC, I realize that besides preparing the next generation for senior and executive leadership positions (including the Executive Director/CEO position) in nonprofit organizations, leaders who are new to the E.D. or CEO position are at a critical point in their leadership development and experience.

I remember when I first became a CEO back in 2002 and how I thought having worked alongside my predecessor for 14 years, I knew what to expect and I could fairly seamlessly move into the CEO position.  Boy, was I mistaken!  On day one, I was surprised to realize that the E.D./CEO job was distinctly different than other executive leadership positions (I had been, at that point, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer for 9 years and had done a lot out in the community building partnerships and representing the organization).  Two immediate insights I had when I became CEO that I have shared with others I have coached and mentored over the years were: 1) It truly is lonely at the top and buck stops with you was something I felt immediately.  Some of my other retired colleagues have commented on how when they retired they physically felt a weight lifted off of their shoulders, the weight of the responsibility for leading an entire organization.  How true that is!  2) While I had worked closely with the Board as a whole and on specific board committees and was well known to them, the reality of reporting to the Board as my new boss (bosses) and as the only employee the Board hires also hit me right away.  Being in the “second in command” position as COO really shielded me from this reality.  I was accountable first and foremost to the CEO who was the bridge to the Board for staff leadership and the organization.

I have participated in and presented in multiple leadership development programs in the nonprofit sector over my career, but based on my experience of becoming a CEO for the first time, I still think we are not doing enough to prepare new E.D.’s or CEOs for how to work effectively with the Board of Directors/Trustees.

As I wind down coaching a new executive director, I realize that executive coaching can be most needed when a leader becomes a new E.D. or CEO for the first time.  Boards of Directors should consider offering this support to the incoming leader, especially in the first 6 months to a year in the position.  It is a great way to improve the chances that the new E.D./CEO will be successful which benefits everyone, but especially the organization with a new leader at the helm.

Why the Name?

I decided to name my “encore” career coaching & consultation business Leaders 4 Futures (L4F) because it says everything I would want to about what my focus will be.

So, what’s in a name? as Shakespeare would say:

Many current managers in nonprofit organizations have yet to develop the leadership skills that are fundamental for senior and executive leadership positions in the nonprofit sector.  Management is an important skill, but without leadership, organizations can function smoothly but have little vision of a future or are not strategic in looking outwards vs. just managing inwards.  So, leaders are needed, especially now, as more CEOs and other senior and executive leaders are moving into retirement like myself.  I want to focus my “encore career” on helping the next generation of leaders to move successfully into senior and executive leadership positions including the CEO position which I have served in for 15 years in two great nonprofits.

Why do I use the number “4”?  Well, I think it is a way of being cute like shorthand in texting, but it means more than that.  I am certified as a Social Style facilitator by the Tracom Corporation (You can Google for more information) that developed the Social Style approach.  Social Style is a leadership behavioral inventory.  It has been used around the world and there is significant research to demonstrate its effectiveness.  The most significant of these was a study by Colorado State University that found Social Style to be a more effective leadership assessment than either the DiSC analysis or Meyers-Briggs (MBTI) in helping people to improve their working relationships with others.  Social Style is also very well-aligned with Daniel Goleman’s work on Emotional Intelligence.  It is a behavioral approach that focuses on observable behaviors rather than a personality inventory like the MBTI.  There is value in all of these assessments, and I would add the LPI (Leadership Practices Inventory) developed by Kouzes connected to his landmark leadership book “The Leadership Challenge” and the Strengths Finder 2.0 which was developed out of the work of the Gallup Organization.  While these last two and to some extent the DiSC provide tools to use your assessment to become a more effective leader,  Social Style also assesses one’s versatility in working with others who have different social styles.  One can learn to be more versatile whereas Social Style, MBTI, the LPI and Strengths Finder tend to capture less changeable aspects of one’s natural tendencies.  I have taken the MBTI and Strengths Finder more than once and have seen slight changes but with Social Style, one can get stronger in the other 3 Social Styles but 1 Social Style typically remains one’s dominant and most natural.  There are 4 Social Styles called: Driving, Analytical, Amiable and Expressive.  They are determined by how much one tends to be controlled or emotes and how one tends to either tell or ask.  There is no style that is better than any other and there have been great leaders in all 4 styles.  There is much more to each, but I will not discuss these further in this blog except to explain that this is another reason I chose to use “4”  in my business name and not “for”.

I chose “Futures” as the last word in the name of my business because I want to help to prepare the next generation of leaders to become senior and executive leaders in the nonprofit sector.  I just completed a very gratifying process of coaching and preparing my Chief Program Officer to become my successor and after a national search, the Board of Directors selected her.  This was very reinforcing of both the potential of coaching and also what I have to offer to other nonprofit leaders who aspire to move into senior and executive leadership positions.  Nonprofit organizations can do a better job of succession planning, not just for the CEO position but also other executive/senior leadership positions in their organizations.  This requires nonprofits to look to and plan for the future rather than just react when the future arrives.  I also chose the plural of “futures” because we cannot predict the future.  I remember years ago participating in an intense and difficult process called “scenario planning” in which we attempted in small groups as leaders in the nonprofit sector to come up with 4 (there’s that number again) scenarios around a particular trend for nonprofits from the worst case to the best case scenarios and two other in-between scenarios and then write headlines as if they came true.  Therefore, there is more than one possible future that will play out for the nonprofit sector and for each organization, thus the use of “futures”.  Good leaders are alert to the future and attempt to position their organizations to be a “ahead of the curve” vs. “late to the game”.

So, I hope this blog that explains my choice of a business name has been helpful to you and that it has given you a glimpse into who I am as a leader and executive coach and what some of my beliefs and values are.  After all, as leaders often the first best step one can take is to know thyself which includes one’s values and beliefs as well as one’s unique talents she/he brings to leadership.



Self-Awareness is Key to Effective Leaders

I was just talking to a leadership colleague today and it became clearer than ever to me that self-awareness is so important for all of us in leadership positions.  We need to be mindful of how we are going to come across to others when we speak or take actions as a leader, and that starts with our own self-awareness.  By being in touch with our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and values, we have a much better chance of behaving in a way that is aligned with who we are as people and as leaders.  This alignment also ensures authenticity and genuineness as a leader.  I believe people look to leaders to be authentic and genuine as this is another form of honesty.  Behaving in ways that are congruent with our stated beliefs and values is also critical to leadership credibility.  We must “do as I say and do as I do” or put another way: “walk the talk and talk the walk”.



I am Howard Garval, MSW and currently President & CEO of Child & Family Service (CFS) in Ewa Beach, Hawaii.

I am so excited to introduce myself to other leaders in the nonprofit sector or to reconnect in a different way with leaders I already know.  After September 30th of this year, I will be moving on from my CEO position after 11 wonderful and successful years at CFS as I move into my encore career.

Leaders 4 Futures is the name of my new business of providing executive coaching and consultation to the next generation of nonprofit leaders who are interested in preparing for and then pursuing senior or executive leadership positions.  This is my passion and after 30+ years of leadership in three great nonprofits, I want to give back by helping our future leaders, thus the name of my new business.

I believe strongly in executive coaching and the importance of finding a good match between the coachee and the coach.  I have both benefitted from coaching and have had the pleasure of coaching other leaders, especially in the last three years.

I look forward to working with anyone where there is this good match and fit.

Thank you for the important work all of you do in the nonprofit sector!