Submitted Date 01/08/2019

From a simple perspective, the word success is at the core of 'succession planning.' An organization is only as good as its current performance, its long-term strategic plan and its plan to seamlessly transition new leaders into the key roles that directly enable its desired success. If at any point there is an unforeseen voluntary or involuntary departure of a key leader, the organization and its growth could stall or even fail.

Succession planning is a process. It involves consistently and effectively identifying internal/external talent willing to take the baton from current leaders. As you focus on improving or implementing your organization's succession plan here are four keys to ensuring your plan is strategic and effective:


Start with leading in a way that makes others aspire to take on your role in the future. Make your day-to-day tangible for others. Be able to communicate your routines, key players in your network that are necessary partnerships to get things done, what problem-solving looks like in your role, how you manage up and across in your role, how you contribute to the organization's vision and goals in your role. Be transparent about your mistakes and steps to ensure they don't occur again.


Define the competencies that will be required for each position. If your organization has offices across multiple cities/states, partner with leaders to gain awareness about hi-potential talent and whether they are relocatable. Make time to get to know those individuals and allow them to spend some time with you in your world. Let others shadow you so they have more than an "outside looking in" perspective to what you actually do. Recruit and select talent differently. Look for additions to your team that already have the bandwidth to lead 1-2 levels up and then accelerate their growth with purposeful development. Utilize job boards, websites of professional associations, search firms, recruiters to identify any potential external talent.


Become a subject matter expert in people development.

Collaborate with your Human Resources Executives. Determine an assessment process for potential future leaders. Provide mentorship to those that possess both the desire and capacity to create additional value for the company in the future. Role play typical situations you encounter to help a future replacement grow their mindset prior to being in the role. Champion your leaders with others who have influence or risk relative to leadership backfill.

Allow the leader to take on your responsibilities for vacations and/or LOAs you may take. Upon return discuss with them what they feel went well and what the experience surfaced as needs for more development. Solicit the same feedback from those on your team, peers, and boss. Create a tangible career plan for your replacement to provide clarity around what they need to achieve the role of successor. Ensure there is a retention plan to compliment the succession plan. Champion your key leaders with others who have influence or risk relative to leadership backfill. Set up networking events to allow future leaders to gain visibility of officers of the company and vice versa. Make sure leaders are clear that a succession plan is not a guarantee of promotion or position.


Link the succession plan to the company’s strategy including its vision and mission statement. Clearly define process steps for the organization and specifically by role. Provide a clear timeline that supports the process steps. Communicate the plan to key leaders, the Board, and each department in a way that helps them understand their role in the execution of the overall plan.

In summary, a company’s long-term success is highly influenced by the existence and effectiveness of its succession plan. The way you lead, plan, collaborate and implement a plan that shows up as part of your overall strategy will determine its effectiveness.



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