What Drives “Success” in Succession Planning?


It’s apropos that the word “success” is a part of succession, given that effective leadership planning and pipelining may well mean the difference between success and failure for an organization. In fact, succession planning is the greatest investment you can make towards ensuring long-term success for your company, yet most organizations don’t build their leadership bench deep enough, use a process based on subjectivity, or don’t have a plan at all.

The Standard against Which You Should Measure

With the future of your company at stake, it’s time to turn the magnifying glass on your company’s leadership planning process. There are five key questions you should ask:

  • Do you have a board-ready succession plan?
  • Do you have the tools to identify the right people for the right leadership positions?
  • How confident are you in the credibility, fairness and effectiveness of your succession planning process?
  • Is your process based on objective data and real-time information?
  • Can you say with certainty that an employees’ leadership potential wasn’t overestimated? Or that others weren’t underestimated?

Three Building Blocks of Effective Succession Planning

If you answered no to one or all of the above, you aren’t alone. Most companies struggle with determining the right process for leadership planning, often misdirecting investments in time and money, without much return. Few have ascertained a clear set of indicators for successful leadership candidates, or measured the readiness level of potential leaders.

Using a data-driven succession planning process will help you define what leadership success looks like in your organization and assess talent readiness across your organization – going beyond the immediate executive team to encompass other high-potential leaders across all levels of the organization. Best-in-class succession programs are built on three key steps:

  1. Assess and Develop. Assessing talent for a clear picture of leader readiness for the next job level across your organization is a fundamental first step in the process. The right data provides the information you need to identify pivotal talent, gauge readiness gaps, and to build the development plans based on skill readiness now and where they need to be in order to accelerate their growth.
  2. Informed Decision-Making. Leveraging the assessment data allows you to make better talent decisions, and ensure smooth executive team promotions and transitions.
  3. Define What Success Looks Like. By using a scientific process to identify what success looks like in your organization, you are better equipped to measure leadership candidates against these qualifications or qualified indicators.

 We have just completed a proprietary succession planning survey and will post results in the near future.  In the meantime, you can access XBInsight’s research report, Six Steps to Successful CEO Succession Planning. Or, to learn more about XBInsight’s succession planning solutions, contact us at 401-682-2859, ext. 101 or info@xbinsight.com.