Thinking About Succession...Before It's Too Late

Back in February, the business news carried the story of Steve Jobs' deteriorating health and the question of succession. At Apple's shareholder meeting, the question of succession surfaced. One pundit asked a key question:

~ "Is Apple's bench strong enough no matter how long Steve Jobs is not there?"

In other words, can an innovative firm like Apple withstand the loss of a creative leader like Jobs should he suddenly exit the scene?

It's an uncomfortable prospect to think about. In fact, many (if not most) leaders would prefer NOT to think about succession. A recent HR survey found that 2 out of 5 companies do not have a succession process in place. Yet this is a terribly important governance issue for boards, investors, and shareholders, as well as a business continuity issue for customers and employees.

HR guru William Rothwell released a brief video on the basics of succession planning where he says:

- The goal of succession planning is to develop all of the people in an organization to achieve their potential

He then suggests some steps toward a succession process:

1. Inventory your talent against the future - Who do we have vs Where are we going? Identify the skills and capabilities that the company will need as it pursues its strategic plans.

2. Assess potential for promotion - Who is ready for greater responsibility? Begin to ensure the promotability of current staff to meet the future work demands.

3. Close the gap - How do we build the leadership capacity we will need? Through planned learning and development, including leadership development, make the commitment to upgrading the talent to meet the future.

If you are in a leadership role in your organization, I recommend you consider the question of succession.

Who have you identified to step into your spot?

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Thursday March 24, 2011. Would you like more ideas on leadership, delegation and succession? Invite Terry to your organization.


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