Succession planning: The need of the Hour

I was recently reading news about ADMK Tamilnadu based political party…story after death of legendary Leader Jayalalithaa…and a storm of thoughts survived in my mind for long period. I started finding similar examples …what happened to Infosys after Narayanmurthy..TATAs after Ratan TATA…Shivsena after Balasaheb ..Ambani group after Dhirubhai….Congress after Indira Gandhi…I can list many more touch the topic, these are enough.

The names of all the people I took above are supposed to be the great leader or they are known as great leaders ….but then what went wrong with all of them in delivering basic & very important requirements of being a Leader, and developing their successor.

We all know that “Leader develops successors and Boss develops followers” .. And its fundamental truth of life let it be personal or professional or political.

The examples of organizations where leaders had to come back after retirement are well known, but not all organizations are lucky like this and they fall apart.

When we all know that it is very important to have a succession plan and it’s very important to work on creating future leaders now…Why many organizations fail on this?

Most of the time the reason for not having a successor even worth a succession plan in place is ..

1)     The leader feels, he will live 100 years guaranteed so it’s too early to think of a successor

2)     or The leader fears to lose control on the organization by indicating that there is/ will be a successor and it’s not only ME ME& ME

3)      or the leader is scared of making other contenders in the race unhappy by indicating who is the successor  and fear of not able to manage that situation

4)     or the leaders do not have quality of developing a successor by being, in a mentor role at the same time when they are in the leadership role. (succession planning process absent)

A Survey of such top 50 organizations (corporates, political parties, spiritual organizations) across the world who failed on succession, dominantly shows the above reasons. Strange but true, as we expect some complex reasons behind such failures, whereas the reasons are pretty simple …human behavior or nature.

Many organizations are suffering because of a lack of proper/Real succession planning, the leaders and HR departments have to take this seriously, as this is not only affecting the stake holders but also the employees.


The process:

I remember meeting a Chairman of a big group who was the owner of the business and was out of the business at the age of 70 and handed over the business to a guy, who has been working for him for the last 15-20 years.

He told me that the process of succession started while he was 55-57 (or might be a little early) and it took him good 2 years to select the top 2 employees who he & the board felt can succeed him. While he initiated the process of his succession planning, he made sure that the succession planning of all the levels below also starts ….to the level of department head. At the age of 65, he clearly indicated who is his successor and promoted him to the CEO of the company and at the age of 70 he promoted as chairman and CEO and he himself got out of the business. During this process, the same progression was happening down the level….what a systematic approach to succession…nobody even realized that there was a changeover.

It looks simple and quick, but there is a big process behind it and more than process the determination to have future leaders …

The moral is, we need to focus on succession planning with the real intention of developing leaders. This will not only develop the future leaders, but this will also change the culture of the organization today and will make it more positive and motivating, as this will open doors of future growth to many& and it protects the interest of stakeholders too.

It’s worth repeating ……… the real leadership is in developing successors and not the Followers…

Open chat
“Thanks for reaching out to us via WhatsApp. We’ll get back to you shortly.”