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Succession Planning Starts With “Success”

Jul 20, 2018

Here’s the great succession planning quiz: How many companies have strategically planned for a seamless, well-orchestrated succession planning model and had it work out as well (or better) than they had anticipated?

100% — No way.
80% — You are dreaming!
60% — Incredibly unlikely.
40% — You are getting warm.
20% — Bingo.

Succession planning has not, does not and will not work unless we challenge and change the way we do it.

Succession planning should work. It makes sense that it should work. The idea of creating a succession plan for an organization to sustain the quality of its leadership makes a lot of sense. In principle, a good succession plan provides an organization with the opportunity to maintain strong, stable, quality leadership in the long term as well as the continuity of leadership during times of change.

But succession planning does not work for many organizations all over the country. Why? Because too many current leaders think that there are no great, new leaders coming through the system.

Seeing Past “Generation I”

The current generation of leaders believe that the “Gennies” — Generations X, Y and Z — are more like “Generation I” (as in I for internet, I for iPhone and I for “I am the only one that matters”). The current generation believes they are all disorganized, disgruntled, disturbed, disengaged, dysfunctional and disruptive.

By believing this, these leaders doing themselves and their companies a huge disservice. There are some outstanding, talented and brilliant young leaders coming through the system — leaders that have the potential to take your organization into a fantastic future.

These are amazing young people who will change the world, and who can learn more and learn it faster than you ever dreamed possible — but only if they are given the opportunity. These generations are creating leaders with the potential to turbo-charge your business with new levels of energy, enthusiasm and intelligence.

What you are really saying when you say, “There are no good leaders on the horizon,” is “There are no leaders LIKE ME coming through the system.” This is the real succession planning problem: Current leaders are looking for people to replace them rather than succeed them and be greater than they are.

Ensuring Your Business’s Future

Succession planning is about excellence, not ego. It’s about growth, performance enhancement and accelerated improvement, not replication, replacement or resentment.

For your business to succeed, the next generation must be different and better than you. They have to be. You don’t want another leader like you — you want one who is better than you. “Better than me?”, I hear you say in a dismissive tone.

Think about it. We know that in the future, technology, communications, transport, information and all other areas of life will be smarter, faster and better. You want your company to be part of this smarter, faster, better world, and ideally, to lead it by being even smarter, faster and better than anyone else.

So how can you achieve this if the next generation of leadership— your success-or — is not smarter, faster and better than you are? Look at the word “succession”; it tells you right there what succession is all about.

The aim is to succeed — not copy, duplicate, replicate or even dedicate. It’s all about guaranteeing the long-term success of your company by ensuring that its future leaders are smarter, stronger, faster and, yes, better. (Like the six-million-dollar man, only with a suit, tie, gold frequent flyer card and an iPhone!)

There are some amazing young leaders coming through, young leaders who can change your business — and even you — if they get the chance. Give it to them!


Paul T. Lally
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