The Four Myths of Succession Planning: Developing Your Organization’s Future Leaders

The Four Myths of Succession Planning: Developing Your Organization’s Future Leaders 

by Lori LaPla and Steve Gravenkemper
Universal Advisor, 2007 Issue No. 3

By 2016, 60 percent of CEOs will be retiring, and the supply of leadership candidates will not meet the demand. Who is your leadership team going to be in nine years and beyond? How will you find qualified people to run your company?

One way to prepare your organization to have potential leaders is by developing a succession plan. By looking at some common myths and best practices of succession planning, your organization will be better positioned to overcome current and future leadership challenges.

Myth 1: Succession Planning Only Focuses on One Position
Successful organizations recognize that leadership is needed at all levels, not just in the CEO suite. They work toward building a talent pipeline of future leaders. Focusing on only one position creates the image of CEO as hero or heroine, which negates the importance of a team of leaders driving the success of an organization.

Myth 2: Succession Planning Ends When a Successor Is Named
Many succession planning committees feel that their work is completed once a successor is named. Strategic succession plans include assimilation or transition planning to support the success of the new leader. Failure to provide such transition support creates a “sink or swim” mentality, increasing the risk of failure.

Myth 3: Succession Planning Is a One-Time Event
Best-in-class organizations emphasize succession planning as an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Leadership development becomes an ongoing dialogue. Such processes create a talent pipeline that produces leaders as needed. Event-driven succession plans often result in a reactionary or crisis management approach.

Myth 4: Succession Planning Occurs in a Vacuum
Succession planning decisions are often made by a select group of individuals behind closed doors. Such groups may fall prey to “group think,” failing to consider critical success factors because the participants overvalue consensus. Key stakeholder opinions may be ignored, which results in decisions that fail to consider dynamic marketplace changes or the need for new leadership behaviors for the organization to thrive in the future.

Succession Planning Is a Key to Organizational Excellence
Don’t wait until you need to fill leadership positions before thinking about who could do it. Create a leadership success profile, establish a succession planning process, and develop a transition plan to ensure that new leaders are successful. Succession planning creates tomorrow’s leaders today.

Plante & Moran is the nation’s 12th largest certified public accounting and business advisory firm, providing clients with financial, human capital, operations, strategy, technology, and family wealth management services. Plante & Moran has a staff of more than 1,500 professionals in 16 offices throughout Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Shanghai, China. Plante & Moran has been recognized by a number of organizations, including FORTUNE magazine, as one of the country’s best places to work.


Grimes, McGovern & Associates provides expert advice during all phases of a transaction. Contact us today for a confidential consultation: John McGovern, CEO, [email protected], (917) 881-6563.

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