Succession Planning: A Critical Aspect of Good Leadership

This is my forty-fifth weekly Blog regarding leadership in America. Succession planning is the process of identifying qualified candidates for key positions well before the current incumbents vacate the positions in order to eliminate any gap in filling these positions. The mistake that many organizations make is that they don’t start doing succession planning until someone in a key position declares that he or she will be leaving the organization. Even if the person leaving gives several months’ notice prior to their departure, that is not enough time to adequately conduct succession planning. The senior leadership of an organization must meet regularly to review their options for filling key positions and they must make succession planning a part of their daily routine by continually observing the people in their organization for the behavior, expertise, and insight that indicate someone with the ability to progress. Discussions will typically center on whether to hire individuals from outside the organization or from within. If the senior leadership frequently hires individuals from the outside, they are sending a strong message to their employees that either no one is ready to be placed into a higher level position or there is no one in the organization that they want in these higher level positions, not now, not ever. Both situations are troublesome and reflect poorly on leadership for allowing this to occur causing a huge negative impact on the organization. The following actions can be taken to improve the succession planning process:
• Start now. Don’t wait until someone is leaving
• Develop an initial list of the organization’s key positions
• Share the list with your workforce and explain the need for succession planning
• Solicit names of anyone interested in receiving developmental assignments to be competitive and qualified for future key positions Don’t screen anyone out at this initial stage
• Meet with the interested employees and explain how you plan to proceed
• Conduct applicable formal classroom training
• Provide developmental on-the-job assignments
• Provide regular feedback to the participants regarding their performance
Good leaders understand that developing their workforces and investing in their collective and individual futures builds a mutual sense of loyalty and commitment by the leadership and employees towards each other.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a human resources director. Mr. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a provocative and useful guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. This book describes the art of leadership including how to deal with poor managers that can cripple an organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and Leadership DNA, visit

This entry was posted in Book Excerpts, Business, Government, Leadership, Leadership DNA, Management, Paul Okum, Paul Okum, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s