If you’re a parent, chances are that you think one of the measures of your success is how well your kids turned out. How about going a step further? What if the REAL measure of your success as a parent is actually how well your GRANDCHILDREN turn out? Are you scared now? Think about it! If you have parented your children well, would your children follow you in principle and parent THEIR children well? What do you think? Gives you some sense of the importance of your job as a parent, doesn’t it?
Succession planning is something like that. Do you care enough for your company to ensure that you are grooming and mentoring your successor such that he will also groom and mentor his successor as well? Bear in mind that I am not encouraging you to reproduce clones of yourself. Your successor and his successor after him will have their own leadership styles, preferences and so on. You ought to groom and mentor him in such a manner that the strengths of his particular combination of styles and preferences are brought to the fore. However, it is extremely important that he also have a great deal of alignment with the company values and company vision, otherwise derailment is a short way down the tracks.
This is where everyday practical leadership comes in. You shouldn’t be waiting for the time just before you leave to start finding your successor. You ought to be doing it now, if you’re worth your salt to the company. Are you? How much time do you spend mentoring your other Chiefs? What about Division Managers? The rest of the company? This is not to suggest that you focus on mentoring and developing your people to the extent that the ship strays off course and founders on some of those proverbial reefs. It simply means that you need to be very clear about what you NEED to be doing and you should NOT be doing. All the while leaving about one-third white space for you to do your real job, which is to think, reflect, gain insights and turn them into profitable action.
The multi-generational view is one of the hallmarks of great leaders. Take care of your successor’s successor!