Leadership Succession Planning

“I believe succession planning is one of the greatest responsibilities you have as a leader—so when your time comes to move on, your team not only doesn’t miss a beat but gains in momentum, embracing new challenges and realizing future opportunities.”
                                                                                                                                              Angel Ahrendts CEO, Burberry

William J. Rothwell credited N.H. Carter with the following description of succession planning:

"Succession planning has been defined as a means of identifying critical management positions, starting at the levels of project manager and supervisor and extending up to the highest position in the organization. Succession planning also describes management positions to provide maximum flexibility in lateral management moves and to ensure that as individuals achieve greater seniority, their management skills will broaden and become more generalized in relation to total organizational objectives rather than to purely departmental objectives."

Rothwell also contends that when succession planning and management are informal and unplanned, job incumbents tend to identify and groom successors who are remarkably like themselves in appearance, background, and values. They establish a “bureaucratic kinship system" that is based on “homosocial reproduction.” [Quotes are credited to Moore, W. (1962). The Conduct of the Corporation, New York: Random House, p. 109]

According to Rothwell, Rosabeth Moss Kanter maintained that because of the situations in which managers function and because of the position of managers in the corporate structure, social similarity tends to become extremely important to them. The structure sets in motion forces leading to the replication of managers as the same kind of social individuals. And the men who manage reproduce themselves in kind. [R. M. Kanter. The Men and Women of the Corporation, New York: Basic Books, 1977, p. 48]

The Succession Planning Process

For a presentation on the key elements of Leadership Development and Succession Planning, click on the graphic above.