Yesterday, we began looking at the importance of leadership transition and the fact that many organisations misunderstand the importance of doing this well. Few examples in history are as famous as Oliver Cromwell’s seventeenth century failure to ensure his son’s capacity to lead the English ‘protectorate’, resulting (quite predictably) in the country’s reversion to the familiarity of the monarchy.
We saw that succession planning requires clarity on what is needed and time to implement what is often a complex process of change for all involved. Another couple of keys are equally important.
3. Have a clear plan. Is the transition to involve a short time before-hand with some ongoing mentoring after handover? Is it a long lead-in period? This needs to be clear so that the details of the handover are not in dispute when emotions become involved. The arrangements should be in writing (perhaps minutes of relevant meetings), too, to avoid misunderstandings and confusions.
4. Have clear expectations. These should also be written. Will the departing leader be on the board or have a leadership role? Will the current leadership team remain in place? Will a departing leader be able to have a voice, if relevant, whilst remaining supportive of the new leader? These are important questions to be cleared up with all relevant parties at the commencement of a transition arrangement. Far too many leaders have been unable to let go and have held on to real or de facto power that risks crippling a new leader before he even gets going.
The final post on this issue will follow tomorrow.