“Succession planning” is not synonymous with “executive search.” Succession planning anticipates the departure of a leader or leaders, whether at some point in the distant future or over the next few months, and engages the organization in a planning process that ensures an orderly transition of leadership. Most succession planning can be categorized as follows:
- Strategic leadership development is the process of readying for any eventuality by ensuring that the right staff and volunteers are in place to advance the organization’s vision whatever comes. Rather than planning in anticipation of a specific leadership departure, “strategic leadership development” focuses on identifying the leadership and managerial skills your organization needs now and in the future and maintaining talented individuals who have or who can develop those skills.
- Emergency succession planning establishes plans and defines roles and responsibilities to ensure that the organization can continue to operate without disruption in the event of a sudden, unplanned absence or the sudden departure of a key leader.
- Departure-defined succession planning happens when leaders announce that they plan to leave or retire, for example, in 18-24 months. In such cases, the board takes an active role in preparing the organization for a leadership transition-agreeing upon organizational priorities, building board and staff capacity, and taking the essential steps to prepare the organization for an executive search that will attract the very best candidates.
- No matter what kind of leadership transition you are preparing for-one with plenty of lead time or a sudden and unexpected loss of a leader, we can help you develop a succession plan that will make the very best of this moment in time, gain clarity about direction, build staff and board leadership skills, manage the communications and essential relationships, and set the stage for a successful transition. How to start a conversation about succession planning with your board or executive director? Read this!