Coming from the military, succession planning was a mindset. Because we transferred every 2-4 years, you always had the “Mack Truck” mindset – that any day, you might get transferred (or mowed over by a Mack Truck) and someone else would come in after you. As a result, you created and upgraded systems and processes to make it easier for your successor.
Not so much in the corporate world. Surprisingly very little thought is given to succession planning. It “involves much more than simply jotting down a list of potential candidates to replace the person at the top of the org. chart.”
This became quite evident when I was serving on a national board and we asked the CEO to develop a succession plan for himself and his direct reports. A month later, he came back with a list of names, but not a plan.
I wish I had Mary C. Kelly and Meridith E. Powell’s book, “Who Comes Next?: Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy.” Chock full of templates and worksheets, Kelly and Powell define succession planning and describe the process to use. It’s “an ongoing process rather than a one-time task…involving finding the right people, hiring them and training them, rewarding them, keeping them, and preparing them for pivotal leadership roles.”
What I really like about this book is that it describes all the facets needed for a robust succession plan. While many of my clients identify succession planning somewhere in their strategy, few know what they need to do! So from now on, I am going to give them this book. By using the comprehensive action plan, they can determine their initial readiness state (or baseline), identify the gaps, and create a plan to close those gaps. Voila! Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy!
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.