Succession Planning

20150824_171231 - Version 2This is the second day my 15-year-old daughter drove part of the way to school. She got her learner’s permit last week, and is now taking over some of the driving duties in the morning. Those parked cars, the ones that are so far away from the driver’s seat, seemed ready to leap out at us.

Things sure look different from the passenger seat.

I hate driving. Never have liked it. So this is a welcomed event. I’m not ready to turn her loose on a highway, but she will become my primary driver over the next year. Hey, I’m 48 and not that great of driver, so I figure this is just a preemptive strike to when they take away the keys anyway.

Who will take my place has become an area of study and thought for me over the past few years. What does this have to do with my white-knuckle ride each morning? Succession planning.

Succession planning is critical to all aspects of life:

  • Who will drive you around when they take the keys away
  • Who will take your place in your ministry
  • Who will assume your current job

For those who just threw up in their mouth, you need this more than anyone else. Succession planning makes you far more valuable than the lack thereof.

The poorest leaders I have encountered are the ones who ignore this, whether they are leaders of families, churches or other organizations.

If you haven’t taught your children to handle money well, they are far more likely to be 40-year-old financial wipeouts. They won’t be responsible enough to help you in your golden years. And guess what? One day you won’t be there to file their EZ tax forms (I’m pretty sure that’s what they’ll be filing) or buy their gas, not to mention use the assets you leave behind wisely.

If you haven’t built other leaders in your church, your church will become a cult of personality and die with you (or probably before you, given the lack of vision you are showing).

If you haven’t planned for who will take your current position at work, you’ll probably stay there. Maybe you want to, but the same principle applies as above—you have an obligation to build others and not doing so is selfish, not to mention poor leadership of others and poor stewardship of your gifts.

Andy Stanley says, “There’s always a place for someone who replaces himself.” True. There is always a place. And if you think there isn’t, then you are right. If you hold so tightly on to what you have, that will be all you have.

I’ve been in my current position just under two years. I started succession planning on my second day on the job, when the person on the team I inherited, whom I perceived to be a great future leader (granted, it was just a gut feeling,) told me she was taking another job and moving across the country.

I’ve had better first weeks on a job.

I was forced to think about succession planning right then, and it was a great blessing. Long story short, she stayed in her position, moved across the country, and now works with me daily but remotely. It is working very well. And yes, she is still a part of my succession planning. Nothing’s for sure, and things can change. But there is a plan.

There is no other position open for me now in my organization, which I love and basically stalked for a year to get in the door. In other words, if my team member was ready tomorrow, what’s a girl to do?

There’s always a place somewhere for a person who replaces herself. Maybe it’s in the same organization and maybe it’s not. But there is always a place. Most importantly, to fail to have a succession plan out of fear for one’s own position probably means you aren’t a strong enough leader to have the position you currently have. And one day, some strong leader above you who works on succession planning will see that.

To listen to a great podcast on succession planning, listen to The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast, episode 19.

One thought on “Succession Planning

  1. Pingback: How to Know When You are Done | An Untitled Life

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