Have you ever watched the dynamics in an organization that needs to replace a leader because they are about to retire or they have resigned to work at another company? You would think that the rules for succession had something in common with who will get the crown next in the royal family. People start assuming that each person in line will assume the role ahead of them, and it is only the last person that needs to be replaced.
This only happens in organizations that operate without succession plans. If your organization is keeping track of career aspirations, and creating skills within individuals to prepare them for future roles, this kind of jockeying for position is absent.
Succession planning is a lot of work, and is why a lot of organizations pass on them. They believe that succession planning is costly and comes without guarantees. This is true, and when you are dealing with human beings, there are a lot of variables that can cause even the most well executed plan to fall apart. But is the latter, the chaos that comes with a resignation or announcement of retirement worth it?
For those that are in favor of the royal family approach to ascension of power, keep in mind that succession planning has been going on since their births. The next king or queen is being groomed, along with the next couple more in line. Government that is built on a monarchy system doesn’t leave anything to chance. Yet our corporations often do leave things and people unprepared for what happens when someone leaves.
A simple test to determine where your company is today would be to ask what would happen if you resigned. What would be the steps taken to replace you, or would you be replaced? Would it be good for your team, and those in the organization you support? Or would chaos ensue, to see who is the next you?
Leadership Succession isn’t about “rights” but about who would be best to take on a role. Who would make the best person for the job and success for the company. While infighting might be more entertaining to watch, it is hardly efficient. What does your company need to do today to ensure smooth transitions tomorrow?