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Succession Planning Blind Spots

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How CEOs perceive their role has a tremendous impact on the outcome.

By Deedee Myers, Ph.D.

A mutual understanding between the chair and CEO about desired succession planning outcomes goes a long way toward organization success, both long-and short-term. On the other hand, when an effective chair/CEO dialogue is non-existent, there is a high likelihood of unintended consequences regarding trust and transparency--and inadequate development of the executive team and middle management team.

Here are some additional succession planning blind spots to watch out for:

1.  Some CEO followers of the Carver governance model assume they do not have responsibility to develop potential CEO successors. The outcome of this separation of duties often leads to disillusionment by executives who want to be seen and developed as potential successors. If executives are not developed as potential CEO candidates, and they want to be, a higher flight risk is probable. Deciding who is CEO is a board responsibility and some CEOs keep that Carver separation of duty. The board needs to be explicit in requesting that the CEO develop potential internal successors, or make those external resources available.

2.  A CEO who tells an executive that he or she is the next CEO needs to be sure this information aligns with the board's intention.

3.  Timing is important. Succession planning is different than a recruitment episodic event. Succession planning is ongoing and aligned with strategic planning. The sweet spot for executive development is three years prior to needing a new CEO.

4. A retention plan is needed during times of leadership change chaos and the exit of high-quality executives is a concern.

5. The board needs to have a multiple-lens perspective of the CEO role as competencies are decided for the successor: What does the board need, what does the organization need, what does the membership need, what does the community need?

Deedee Myers, Ph.D., is CEO of CUES Supplier member and strategic provider DDJ Myers, Ltd., Phoenix. Download DDJ Myers' Succession Planning: Organizational Readiness Questionnaire to help you assess how well your organization is currently prepared to proactively manage succession planning. If you liked this post, you may also be interested in reading "Succession Success" and "Succession Planning Do's and Don'ts." DDJ Myers has expertise in succession planning, strategic planning, executive coaching and board governance.

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