Succession Planning? ... Not on My Watch!

At first blush, it would appear there is no shortage of Succession Planning Advocates convinced in theory, the importance and benefits of corporate Succession Planning. In practice, however, real succession planning - or the overt lack thereof - runs juxtaposed to principle. The important question then is, "Why?"

In November 2002 I wrote an article *The Art of Succession Planning in which the argument in favor of a detailed Succession Plan was put to rest. Clearly, the advantage of proper planning is no argument at all. But try telling that to some company owners or today's high caliber CEOs. Those who rise to power, especially in large organizations, do so because they possess what's known as, the Royal Jelly. Most are born leaders with unlimited high energy, charisma and an innate psychological need to win, control and dominate. Although it would be easy for some to cast aspersions on such a profile, the fact is, these attributes are the stuff integral to power and for most of us, what we admire in our leaders.

Would it surprise anyone then, if those, predisposed to leadership and control, may find discomfort in succession planning? Simply said, any plan for succession, is a blueprint for the [call it anything you want] inevitable loss of power, control and prestige they worked so long and hard to achieve. After all, in the mind of a new CEO: They're going to be there forever?and/or ? If they leave, it will be by their choosing.

No leader is perfect. They make mistakes. For them, the last thing they need is the added pressure of a motivated Heir Apparent waiting in the wings with a blueprint for a much anticipated and inevitable transition to power. Reining CEOs are not sacrosanct from the ambitions of the Would-be-Kings. The net result? No Succession plan.

Where there's a Will? There's a Relative!

Wish if we could that each successive generation spawn greater leaders than the last. Successful family-owned and operated companies face succession challenges on two fronts. Not every child of a great leader is blessed with the Royal Jelly. [Teddy Kennedy spring to mind?] More often the next generation, either because of, or despite having lived a life of privilege, find themselves bereft of the right stuff and unequipped to lead. A good model for this is the British Monarchy. [Hang in there Lizzy!]

Succession planning for family-owned businesses can further be compromised when there are heir apparents from competing families. The right family heir to run the company may not [politically] be next in line and therefore succession planning is often avoided at all costs in order to circumvent a potentially divisive situation. Who will forget the bitter battle of two brothers for the McCain family frozen food empire?

Beware the Motivations of the Succession Planning Architect!

In ancient Rome, the Emperor Tiberius appointed Caligula to be his successor. A magnanimous gesture to say the least but not the real reason for his choice. Tiberius was more concerned about his legacy - fueled mostly by an unusually large ego.

By appointing Caligula, it was his hope the people of Rome would grow to hate the new ruler, to see him as the miscreant he was. They did. In so doing and at the expense of the Roman people, Tiberius believed he had done himself a great service by indemnifying an unquestioned personal legacy of benevolence and superior leadership.

Tiberius, however, didn't corner the market on self-serving succession planning. For more contemporary examples we need only look at the current Prime Minister of Canada, The Right [Honorable?] Jean Chrétien and his now agonizing Long Good-Bye.

Regardless of whether one voted for him or not, in a democratic society, the rein of any leader must eventually come to an end either by popular vote or for the good of the people. For dominant leaders, it is understood that stepping down is never an easy decision to make or to do.

That said, the political winds of change are not all that transparent and it's not unexpected for, in this case, Canadians, to count on a certain respectability or professionalism from their leader in the transition process. Sadly, the Prime Minister serves today as the quintessential example of bad Succession Planning.

Newspaper headlines that clearly point out a now Lame-Duck-Leader whose agenda for the next year is bent solely on a self-serving legacy at the expense of his own party and the country as a whole, should, but hasn't, deterred him.

For example, few would argue the need for stricter environmental guidelines but what other than his legacy is served by forcing the thinly veiled K.Y.O.T.O. bill through parliament when even his own cabinet find flaws in it and the need for further debate. Moreover, Liberals and Conservatives alike openly agree; smiting his nemesis and obvious successor, Paul Martin, by first forcing him out of his cabinet post and then changing the rules for corporate sponsorship where it impedes Mr Martin the most, is nothing short of vindictive. In fact, limiting financial corporate sponsorship and then funding future elections with taxpayer's money, I, as a taxpayer, could find it laughable if it were not so egregiously repugnant. Who benefits? Canadians? His Legacy? His ego? ...How Tiberiunesque! Bad Succession Planning!

Bottom Line:

Succession Planning is an integral part of what binds and brings balance to business, politics and even our personal lives. Like most disciplines, it's not as easy as it sounds. Nevertheless, like death and taxes, it is unavoidable and will come one day on our watch. What still remains our choice is how we handle it when it's our time? That too will reflect in our legacy.

* For a copy of the article *The Art of Succession Planning send an email request to paul@success150.com

About The Author

Paul Shearstone aka The 'Pragmatic Persuasionist' is one of North America's foremost experts on Sales and Persuasion. An International Keynote Speaker, Author, Writer, Motivation, Corporate Ethics, / Time & Stress Management Specialist, Paul enlightens and challenges audiences as he informs, motivates and entertains. To comment on this article or to book the Pragmatic Persuasionist for your next successful event we invite to contact Paul Shearstone directly @ 416-728-5556 or 1-866-855-4590

www.success150.com or paul@success150.com.

In The News:


pen paper and inkwell


cat break through


How to Beat the Turf Mentality

Want to hear a fascinating story? Let's sit in at... Read More

Appraisal Systems - Not Living Up to Their Objectives

Almost, if not all organisations have them, they've been around... Read More

Five Steps to Better Employee Management

Hiring employees is a huge responsibility. Before hiring anyone, be... Read More

Bar Charts Brought to Life: Index of Interactive Information for HTML and PDF

Bar Charts and the Information ChallengeWhether one is an unknown... Read More

How to Leverage Your Strengths for Peak Performance

Ask almost any business leader how to most effectively develop... Read More

50 Great Ways to Motivate and Not Break the Bank

Quick, Easy, and Even Fun! 1. Smile, say "Hi! How... Read More

Better Management Performance - The Easy 3-Step Way

Managers make three mistakes when they try to run businesses.... Read More

Integrity... Should It Matter?

In our fast paced work culture, manned by technology savvy... Read More

Few Things Are More Destructive Than An Insecure Boss

Few things are more destructive to a career than a... Read More

Relationship Building - 5 Tips and 5 Questions

And is isn't hard - it's more about focusing on... Read More

Tales from the Corporate Frontlines: Improving Workplace Safety

This article relates to the Safety and Working Environment competency... Read More

Effective Meetings: Why Most Meetings are a Waste of Time

Whether your company holds one meeting a week or dozens... Read More

5 Management Decision Making Lessons from a Long Shot. A Heartening Belmont Victory

Like many, I watched the 134th Belmont Stakes hoping to... Read More

To Outsource or Not to Outsource

In these days of restricted head count and tight budgets,... Read More

Dont Let Your Measurements Mislead You

Don't Let Your Measurements Mislead You ... Read More

Build Your Business (On A Shoestring): Hire a College Intern

Starting up a new venture or business can be one... Read More

Motivating For Higher Performance

Employee motivation is probably the most important single manageable factor... Read More

Managing People - No One Shows You What To Do

Imagine the following scenario - you pay a visit to... Read More

Performance Appraisal Checklist: Raise Not Just Appraise Performance

It's that time again! Perhaps the most dreaded management practice... Read More

Managing Change in the Workplace

Change is exhilarating. Change is terrifying. Change is badly needed... Read More

Meeting Your Meeting Expectations

"To get something done a meeting should consist of no... Read More

Five Steps to Increase the People Power in Your Business

Take some bold steps and help your employees and business... Read More

Improving Your Inter-Company Communications At No Cost

It's all very well having a flashy (and expensive) advertising... Read More

Empowering Others - Giving Them Some Control

It's been a pretty good weekend around the place -... Read More

Top Ten Things About Creating a Business Vision

To visualise where you are going, is deeper and more... Read More

Managing Creativity

Creativity Starts Here!The ability of an organisation to create new... Read More

The Measurement of Manager Training

THE MEASUREMENT OF TRAINING: Evaluation is one of the most... Read More

Looking through the Glass Ceiling - Women in Management

Women have made tremendous contributions to society at every level;... Read More

Four Corners of a Triangle: Why Organizations Succeed or Fail

When we want to hire people for a corporation or... Read More

Seeking Help

Where does the time go? Billable time. As a consultant,... Read More

Working with Hearing Impaired Employees - Giving Them a Fair Go

Hearing impaired people often encounter difficulty at work because their... Read More

Taking Care of Middle Manager Bounce Off

How many times have the management consultants been 'in' and... Read More

Leaning Toward Change

Seduced by the publicity surrounding the impact of Lean on... Read More