Failing to Plan for Succession

The Neglect of Long Term Preparation for Leadership Transitions
Great Leadership Lessons, Note 26

The smaller the organization, the more difficult it is to plan for successors to step into the most vital seats.
The smaller the organization, the more unlikely it has the right people already there who can step up to more significant roles of leadership.
The smaller the organization, the more likely it will have to go outside to find new people to fill empty seats or imminently empty seats.

For companies to remain great, they must have great replacement, advancement and succession strategies in place. Too many organizations simply do not much in place.

Collins says, “one of the most significant indicators of decline is the relocation of power into the hands of leaders who fail to comprehend and/or lack the will to do what must be done--and equally what must not be done--to sustain greatness.”

Here is a list provided in How the Mighty Fall (pps. 60-61) for ways organizations fail in succession, advancement and replacement of key leaders who leave.

  • A dominant leader does not develop successors or drives them away.
  • A strong leader stays in power too long.
  • A skilled leader dies or unexpectedly departs with no strong replacement to step in to the role.
  • Good candidates turn down opportunities to advance.
  • Some of those possible people leave the organization.
  • The board or “voters” are divided about who will be the successor.
  • An outside leader comes who does not share the core values and DNA of the organization and does not last long (this happens in churches - often).

Great organizations, great leadership teams and great senior leaders have an ability to hire the right people. Above all - they have the ability to hire the right successors. Without them, continuity of greatness is “iffy” at best.

Without the right people, especially those in senior leadership roles, greatness cannot be sustained.

succession and leadership transition

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International