Ensuring optimum results

Senior-level succession planning is an essential element in ensuring that an organisation remains stable and successful over time. So it is surprising that many boards devote so little attention to this process, often delaying the succession-planning dialogue until it is too late and unforeseen circumstances force a rushed or unplanned transition at the top.


There are many reasons why boards delay or overlook this process, but none justify the failure to act. Directors may be intimidated by their CEOs or may fear the complexity of the succession-planning process. In other cases, boards fail to appreciate the risks of being ill-prepared for unexpected leadership transitions or forced to choose from limited options.

According to Deirdre Kenny, London-based managing partner for global search firm CTPartners, a far better approach is to put in place a timely, thoughtful and comprehensive CEO succession-planning process which involves a best-in-class field of internal and external candidates.

“This needs full alignment between the board, the current CEO and the chief HR officer regarding the future CEO success drivers. Once the right potential candidates have been identified, he or she can be prepared for the future role,” Kenny advises.

Board discussions should focus on major sources of long-term growth and value-creation, optimal timing for the next leadership transition and meaningful criteria with which to evaluate potential candidates and define future CEO success.

As such, the objective should be to craft and orchestrate a succession plan that is custom-built, results-oriented and transparent. Only the right discipline and preparation will produced the optimum result.

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