In last week’s column, we shared that succession planning is an essential element of board governance and is a strategic, continuous process that happens when organizational leadership is stable. Succession planning does not equate to a search, but the plan will be executed upon when a leadership transition occurs.
The first element of a succession plan is focused on emergency situations. Boards need to develop an emergency leadership plan and crisis communication plan because it may be that the current chief executive is no longer able to serve in the role.
The first component of the emergency aspect of the plan centers around the acting chief executive.
- Does your organization have a plan for who will be named as the acting chief should a crisis occur?
- Does your organization have logins, passwords, and operating procedures securely documented so that the acting chief can ensure continuity of operations?
- What protocols and trainings are in place for media relations?
Once those decisions are made, then the leadership attributes needed for your organization can be determined. Engaging in this exercise will help to update the current chief executive job description to ensure that it is accurate while creating a leadership profile to be used in the future.
As your board thinks about the leadership needs of the organization and the type of leader that will be needed, we encourage you to walk through the following transition scenarios. Each is unique — some are planned and positive while others are unplanned and negative.
What will need to happen at your organization should the following occur?
- Retirement — often with ample notice.
- Resignation with advanced notice — can be positive, such as recruitment to larger institution.
- Resignation with little notice — often negative and departure issues could lead to the chief executive taking staff with them.
- Sabbatical — short term and planned.
- Termination — always negative with an impact on culture and internal/external relations.
- Leave of Absence — serious illness of chief executive, family leave, or other short-term absence.
- Death — sudden and emotional.
Understanding the implications of each of these scenarios on the organization creates the opportunity to plan. And, understanding the leadership needs of your organization is essential for organizational health.
We hope these columns on succession planning create a-ha moments for you and your board.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO