Introduction to Leadership Succession and Sustainability

  • Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing potential future leaders and senior managers, as well as individuals, to fill business-critical roles. The aim is to be able to fill key roles effectively if a current post holder leaves the organization. Succession planning programmes typically include practical, tailored work experience relevant for future roles.
  • Succession planning in companies covers many areas, but typically it’s discussed in terms of replacing key employees as well as how to transfer the reins of the company from one leader to the next. Succession planning can include training employees to move up the corporate ladder and assume leadership positions. From a risk management perspective, it can also address who will replace key employees in the event of a planned or unplanned departure.
  • Succession planning means the process whereby an organization identifies key in-house personnel with a potential to take up a top leadership position and developing them with the hope that they will undertake such roles as they become available. The idea behind any succession plan is to make leadership transition as the business grows, changes and develops to be very smooth.


  • Succession Planning and Management. 

( One of the best-known books on Succession Planning and Management is William J Rothwell’s Effective Success Planning: Ensuring Leadership Continuity and Building Talent from Within.

Now more than ever, succession planning is a must. Because rapid turnover has become a way of life in corporate circles – from the top down through every level of employment – businesses that don’t plan strategies for meeting their future talent needs will face disruption when key employees retire or leave.

Succession planning and management is vital for four basic reasons:

  1. The continued survival of the organization depends on having the right employees in the right positions at the right times.
  2. As a result of economic restructuring in organizations, fewer people are available to advance to the top ranks from among current employees.
  3. Succession planning and management encourages organizational diversity.
  4. Succession forms the basis for communicating career paths, establishing development, and training plans and creating a better human resource planning system.
  • Leadership Sustainability

According to the authors of Leadership Sustainability, Ulrich and Smallwood, “Leadership sustainability occurs when leaders accept why they need to improve, recognize what they need to improve and figure out how to make the improvements stick.” They note that starting is easy, but sustaining is hard because People and firms can change, but they rarely stay changed. Yet organizations must innovate and adapt. Lasting change is possible when leaders get the basics right by following the five rules of the “Leadership Code”, which outline the fundamental leadership skills:

    1. “Shape the future” – Develop, share and drive your vision of the future.
    2. “Make things happen” – Execute. Turn talk into action and do it properly.
    3. “Engage today’s talent” – Develop abilities in others and inspire them to commit to the success of the organization.
  • “Build the next generation” – Think about the future: Who will lead and sustain the organization after you leave? Consider and nurture the leaders and the skills leaders will need in the years to come. 
  • “Invest in yourself” – Commit to growing “intellectually,” “emotionally,” “physically,” “socially” and “spiritually,” by staying engaged, learning, building relationships, and by knowing and following your values.

“Leadership Sustainability” summarizes with the acronym, “START ME” which translate into seven disciplines for sustainable leadership, which help you turn good intentions into effective actions by mastering seven critical disciplines:

  1. Simplicity: Focus on the few key behaviors that will have the most impact.
  2. Time: Allocate your time so your calendar matches your intentions.
  3. Accountability: Take personal responsibility for doing what you say you will do.
  4. Resources: Support your leadership with effective, ongoing coaching and HR systems.
  5. Tracking: Develop metrics for measuring your leadership improvement.
  6. Melioration: Learn from your mistakes and demonstrate resilience.
  7. Emotion: Draw on deep personal values to keep yourself motivated.
  • Adopt a Growth Mindset

According to Stanford University researcher, Carol S. Dweck, there are two kinds of mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. In a fixed mindset, people believe their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change. These people document their intelligence and talents rather than working to develop and improve them. They also believe that talent alone leads to success, and effort is not required.

Alternatively, in a growth mindset, people have an underlying belief that their learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. When people believe they can become smarter, they realize that their effort has an effect on their success, so they put in extra time, leading to higher achievement.

Her inquiry into our beliefs is synthesized in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

A growth mindset is critical for leadership sustainability because it enables leaders to:

  • Adapt effectively, transparently, and consistently to volatile situations.
  • Ensure stability within the environment and continue to deliver quality services despite uncertainty and disruptive change.
  • Build skills for unlocking the potential in people, even in adverse conditions.
  • Mobilize collective wisdom to capitalize on a range of expertise and experience.
  • Lead collaboratively to drive change, even when it means sharing leadership.

Review of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success 

TED Talk by Carol S. Dweck

The power of believing that you can improve.


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