Who Will Take Over?
Some Tools for Succession Planning
You are not alone in not having a viable succession plan. Big corporations also struggle with this, and as NPR reported in September, there is a phenomenon of boomerang CEOs.
Founders and CEOs like Michael Dell are returning to their jobs because they are not comfortable that the companies can sustain without them. Some of that may be that the sort of brass it takes to run a giant company is what makes someone feel irreplaceable. More of it, however, is probably inertia. Executive succession does take a multi-faceted approach, and it is not mission impossible.
Invest in leadership training, even in the C-Suite. Your impression may be that at higher levels, your people don't need any more leadership training. That may not be true. Your senior teams may never have received leadership training. They may have moved up through the ranks based on excellent job performance, their ability to hit key metrics, their hard skills with tools on the shop floor and/or on the computer screen, but they may have never been offered training on leading and inspriring people, on long-term vision, or even basic presentation and delegation. Additionally, in our fast-changing world, continuing professional development is essential for leaders to keep abreast of new research and ideas in effective leadership.
Cindy Solomon of Cindy Solomon Associates points out that without that kind of training, your C-suite may have very shallow bench strength, so finding those next leaders from inside your team becomes impossible. Setting up that kind of leadership development and building a viable succession plan allows your best people to envision their future in your company, instead of giving them no choice but to look elsewhere for better opportunities.