Leadership: Succession Planning

by: ellis j. still 

You have worked hard for many years. You have accumulated skill sets through on the job learning, research, school, and through the kindness and wisdom of others. You have had a decent amount of success at your current position, and greater opportunities and challenges are knocking at your door. But what will you leave behind? Have you prepared the way for those who come after you, or moreover, do you have a company culture where the people who report to you will do the same? Are the people who take over the position able do the job just as effectively as you did if not better, or do you leave chaos in your wake? If you are a business owner, who will run your business if something were to happen to you, or if you decided that you wanted to move on to other things? 

Succession planning is simply building people up from the inside. It involves the development of a mixture of values, work ethic, and work standards. A big measurement of our performance on the job is not what we did on the job, but how well we prepared others. Any position you hold, any business you own, is temporary, and therefore it’s only a matter of time before that season of leadership is over and it is someone else’s turn. 

We don’t normally think of Jesus Christ as a manager or business owner, yet as a leader, he spent his time here on earth preparing others for the future. He got them ready to the point where they could continue on with the mission, and in the end, He said “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I call you friends, for everything I learned from my Father, I have made known to you” (John 14:12). He led by empowering others to fish. 

A major barrier to succession leadership is self. Ego will cause people to play one’s cards close to the chest instead of teaching and growing up the people they are responsible for.  Things that create an ego include: 

Pride – “Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord, but wise men and women listen to each other’s counsel.” (Prov 13:10 Msg). Pride leads to self promotion. Boasting. Taking all the credit. Showing off. Doing all the talking. Demanding all the attention. 

Fear – “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” (Prov 29:25 Msg). Fear leads to self protection. Hiding behind your position. Withholding information. Intimidating others. Hoarding control and revenues. Discouraging honest feedback. 

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

            -Master Yoda, Star Wars – I forget which episode  :- ) 

Self elevation, self esteem, self respect and many other forms of self makes us feel accepted to our own selves, but if you want to grow yourself and your business to new heights, the true Gospel is the call to self denial. 

Question: How well are you preparing others for when the time comes?

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved 


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