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Here are 20 questions your organization faces regarding leadership transition and succession planning.

Preparing for transition

Leadership Transition Is a Risk Management Issue

  • Jen Leary
  • 2/21/2014

Leadership transition is an often-overlooked area of risk management. But identifying, developing, and preparing potential leaders for a planned or unplanned change in leadership is critical. Effective succession planning increases your organization’s ability to meet goals and objectives in the short term — and sustain itself for the long term.

Here are 20 questions to ask yourself as you move forward (or continue) on your leadership transition journey. The answers will help you identify your existing strengths, your current gaps, and the action steps to put the success back in succession planning.

  1. Have you decided who is going to own the design, development, implementation, and execution of the leadership transition and/or succession planning process?
  2. Have you agreed on who will need to be involved to make your plan successful?
  3. Are those individuals committed to the outcomes and objectives of the leadership transition and/or succession planning process?
  4. Have you defined what success will look like and the criteria you will use to evaluate the programs? Is there a scorecard with measurable outputs to evaluate?
  5. If you have a plan, is it working? Is it dated? Does it need to be refreshed? If you don’t have a plan, what can you do to establish one?
  6. Does your plan mirror the strategic objectives of the organization? What are the significant challenges facing the organization over the next one, five, and 10 years? Are they incorporated into the plan and processes?
  7. Have you performed a risk analysis and examined the results?
  8. Have you identified the critical positions within your organization — at all levels?
  9. Have you identified the technical and leadership competencies needed to fill key positions?
  10. Have you identified your high performers?
  11. Have you identified your high potential people?
  12. What are your talent and skill gaps? How will you address those gaps?
  13. Have you performed self assessments and determined where and when you need to make investments to close the gaps?
  14. Have you identified an internal and external strategy for talent acquisition and retention?
  15. Have you identified development needs and how they will be addressed (e.g., training or experience)?
  16. Have you incorporated successes and lessons learned into the current succession planning structure?
  17. Have you documented the outputs and decisions from the above — and communicated them appropriately?
  18. How are you going to motivate, develop, and retain candidates for the identified positions?
  19. How are you executing, communicating, and using the results of your analyses?
  20. Are you continually refining your processes to ensure they are efficient and effective?

Planning for succession is, in my mind, similar to business continuity and disaster recovery: it's important to address planned and unplanned scenarios. It's also not just a public company issue. Succession planning applies to all types of organizations whether publicly held, privately held, or nonprofit. I hope these questions assist you in evaluating your current program and identifying the action steps that will take your program to the highest level. Get your organization ready for its next leader!