Succession Planning – Part 1

Recently, I read some research which showed that 45% of organisations fail to plan ahead for their leadership succession.  To fail to plan is, of course, to plan to fail.  Just occasionally, a surprise candidate comes from nowhere and saves the day but, more often than not, sudden arrivals feel squeezed out or stifled by cultural baggage and expectations of the people they lead.  The result can be pain and anguish for most people concerned.

Here are a few tips I’ve found (from personal experience) which have worked in smoothing the bumps of this inevitable and important aspect of the life cycle of any organisation.

1. Know what you are looking for.  It is usually not just any new runner in the relay of leadership. There needs to be a clear understanding of the policies and values that need to be upheld, regardless of style, and a willingness to back a new way of leading as long as those defined boundaries are maintained. Heritages and legacies often need some protection and people need to have confidence in the processes to which they have committed. Sudden direction changes of a big ship throw half the people overboard and make the other half seasick.

2. Budget time for a transition.  A current leader has much knowledge unique to the organisation and, irrespective of their performance or age, they have valuable information and understanding that won’t just come from a quick data dump.  (There is no USB port in the back of their head either!).

Stay tuned for more tomorrow!


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