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Four rules for succession success


1. Senior leaders’ buy-in


The nature of succession planning is that there are likely to be potential successors who are left out in the cold by the process. This may well include members of the senior leadership team who will play a crucial role in the whole succession process. It is important for the success of succession, therefore, that the senior leadership team fully buys-in to the process – from contributing to the design of the selection system, to the naming of the ultimate successor. This helps to reduce potential friction later on, and ensures that the process can proceed as smoothly as possible.


2. Suitable Culture


An organisation needs to have a culture conducive to the development and ultimate selection of a successor. This should include a real focus and drive towards training and development, as well as a commitment to providing development opportunities around the business. An organisation’s culture should also be dynamic enough to attract high-achievers through the door, and compelling enough to encourage them to stay.


3. Successor’s engagement


Succession should not be a process that unconsciously carries the anointed successor along and ultimately deposits them in the boardroom. Rather, it should be a process in which they are actively and continuously engaged – from engaging in identified training opportunities, to utilising the knowledge and experience of the incumbent in coaching sessions.


4. Incumbent’s commitment


A successor’s engagement, naturally enough, should be matched by the incumbent’s commitment to the process. While it is undoubtedly an unusual prospect to actively coach and engage with the person who will ultimately take over your role, it is important facet of maintaining those parts of an organisation’s culture and history that need to be retained.
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