Succession planning is not a one-and-done task or workshop. It’s a way of doing business in a strategic and sustainable way. It is a mission-critical, proactive, and ongoing process that enables organizations to identify and prepare potential leaders to take on key executive roles within the company. It is a proactive approach to leadership acquisition and development that ensures business continuity and minimizes disruptions caused by unexpected departures or retirements. A well-executed succession plan not only provides a roadmap for the future, but it also helps organizations maintain a competitive edge by ensuring that the right people are in the right positions to drive growth and innovation.
“Succession planning is a critical component of long-term success. It ensures that the organization has the right people in the right positions, with the right skills, knowledge, and experience to drive growth and innovation.”
John F. Milligan, former CEO of Gilead Sciences Inc.
In this article, we will explore the top leadership strategies that organizations can use to develop and implement effective succession plans.
Succession planning should ideally start as soon as an executive takes over a leadership role. The earlier you start, the more time you have to identify and develop potential successors.
2. IDENTIFY POTENTIAL SUCCESSORS
Look for individuals who have the skills, experience, and potential to take on a leadership role. Look within your organization, but also consider external candidates.
3. DEVELOP A PLAN FOR EACH POTENTIAL SUCCESSOR
Once you have identified potential successors, develop a plan for each one that includes training, mentoring, and development opportunities.
4. COMMUNICATE WITH POTENTIAL SUCCESSORS
Communicate with them about their career goals, the skills and experience needed for leadership roles, and what they need to do to be considered for such roles.
5. create a culture of leadership development
Create a culture within your organization that encourages and supports leadership development. This includes providing opportunities for training and development, recognizing and rewarding leadership potential, and promoting a culture of continuous learning.
6. TEST POTENTIAL SUCCESSORS
Challenge potential successors by giving them difficult assignments, allowing them to lead projects, and providing them with opportunities to demonstrate their leadership skills.
7. EVALUATE + REFINE YOUR PLAN
Regularly evaluate your succession plan to ensure it is effective and make any necessary adjustments. Keep track of the progress of potential successors and make adjustments to their development plans as needed.
8. MAKE SUCCESSION PLANNING A PRIORITY
Succession planning should be a priority for all leaders within your organization, not just the top executives. Make sure everyone understands the importance of succession planning and is actively involved in the process.
9. CONSIDER DIVERSITY + INCLUSION
When identifying potential successors, make sure to consider diversity and inclusion. This includes diversity in terms of race, gender, age, and other factors that can contribute to a more inclusive and effective leadership team.
Be transparent about your succession planning process and communicate your plans with your team. This helps to build trust and ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding the future of the organization.
Jason Levi Pinegar
Jason specializes in strategic executive talent acquisition and organizational leadership design and co-leads the firm’s Consumer, Industrial, and Sustainability/ESG practices. He supports a variety of clientele across venture capital, private equity, public, founder-led, and family-owned businesses. He brings expertise in management consulting with a unique focus in Leadership + Managing Organizational Change (MBA), coupled with valuable experience in organizational psychology, leadership assessment + development, and succession planning (MA-PPE, BA). Jason also serves as a Chair Member for the firm’s Lean Six Sigma, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) committees.