A major component of succession planning is working with and grooming succession candidates. Those who take the time to develop a succession plan usually spend considerable effort on readying the future leader of the organization, but often focus little attention on what the organization will look like with the new leader at the helm.
In order to ensure a successful transition, it makes a lot of sense to look beyond the future CEO. Consider what his or her team will look like and how it will function under the new leader.
Sometimes, a leadership team that was effective and supportive of the precedent leader will not be as effective and supportive of the new leader. This can happen for many reasons:
- Someone on the leadership team may feel as though they were overlooked and should have been selected to be the successor. This individual may not have a vested interest in the success of the new CEO.
- The skill sets of the current and future leader may not match up, perhaps requiring some additional skill sets on the leadership team to better complement the future leader/CEO. For example, suppose the current CEO has a strong financial background which has allowed the company to work with a controller as the lead financial executive. If the new CEO has a strong sales background, but a weaker financial background, it may require an upgrade to the financial executive position.
- Older upper management employees may not be willing to take direction from or support a new, younger leader. Perhaps they were contemporaries of the current CEO with whom they worked for a long time. In that case, changing allegiances can be quite difficult.
- The new CEO may want to select his or her own confidants, which may include people outside the current group of upper management.
- There may be weaknesses in the upper management group that were hidden under the old regime. When a newer, less experienced CEO takes the helm, these deficiencies may be highlighted and thus need to be strengthened.
These issues should be evaluated and addressed in advance to ensure the easiest and most successful transition possible. It is very important to assess the rest of the senior management team and consider what other changes might be needed in order to strengthen it.
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