On Leadership, Effectiveness and Succession Planning

Succession Planning

When we explore the role of leadership, its application, expectation, and outcomes, we find a number of interesting and interrelated functions to which all leaders should aspire if they wish to move from good to great.

These functions can be from the leaders themselves or from those who have direct or indirect influence with them.

What’s a Leader’s Role?

If you ask leaders what they think that their role is, you are likely to receive a host of very different and even complex answers.

And although leadership is generally regarded by many as setting the strategic direction of a group or organisation, there is another often-overlooked component that is one of the hallmarks of truly effective leadership.

This is something called “succession planning.”

Succession planning is an element of leadership that eludes a great number of organisations, both large and small. And is often only considered when someone is about to leave an organisation.

This happens whether or not it is a job that the person in question has been doing for some time.

So Somebody Leaves…

When somebody important leaves their position at most organizations, oftentimes the panic button is pressed and something of a scramble ensues to see who can fill the shoes of the incumbent. There is seldom any long-term thought or planning that precedes this hive of reactive activity.

There is no prudent and carefully thought-out change management plan that seeks to make the transition from “what was” to “what is” as seamless as possible.

This is true whether it be for the people within the organisation, or other important people outside of the organization.

Often, there is no one being mindful to inform partnership agencies or clients who would benefit from knowing that their preferred or hitherto single point-of-contact within that organisation is about to move on to new pastures. And little assurance is ever given as well to the fact that they will soon be contacted by their highly trained and equally capable replacement.

The Sad Reality

Such things are rarely mentioned in some organisations. The preferred method of managing such departures seems to be that of the “suck-it-and-see” approach or the all too common “fingers-crossed and hope for the best” method of administration.

  • How often have you worked for an organisation that has sought to identify its future leaders through a well structured and comprehensive ‘talent management programme’?
  • Whether it is through training, mentoring, coaching, or continuous professional development.
  • Add to that the number of leaders who are comfortable with the idea of training their potential future replacement.

For most people it is likely that the answers to these questions are: no, and one or two at best.

It is certainly not the wholesale approach to leadership that an overwhelming number of organisations and or leaders share.

The Leadership Process

As previously stated, leadership is a multifaceted and multi-layered process, one that can produce tangible results if leaders choose to embrace a number of fundamental truths.

One of which is that in order to establish a robust and consistent method of organisational development there needs to be a comprehensive and visible method of talent management, one that demonstrates the importance of succession planning and actively promotes the legacy of a well prepared and forward thinking organisation.


• What is succession planning?
• Identify some of the benefits that exist for an organisation that embraces succession planning?
• Why do effective leaders embrace succession planning?


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John Babb

John Babb is the author of “The Phoenix Leadership Programme”
He facilitates comprehensive and Bespoke Leadership Mentoring Programmes
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L2L Contributing Author