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Succession-Are you Ready

Executive succession remains a hot and contextual management topic. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t read about a CEO retiring, resigning or being asked to leave an organization. What, if any, role should an incumbent play in identifyng a worthy successor ? What wasy can the incumbent help prepare the successor for the CEO position? Noted management and leadership coach, Marshall Goldsmith in his book, Succession : Are your ready ? helps ready CEO’s prospective successors, and others for such a change in leadership.

This book is divided into four parts
• Preparing yourself
• Choosing your successor
• Coaching your successor
• Passing the Baton

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Succession-Are you Ready

  1. 1. Some Impressionistic takes from the book of Marshall Goldsmith “Succession” ( Are your Ready) by R. Ramakrishnan (Ramki) ramaddster@gmail.com
  2. 2. About Mr. Marshall Goldsmith  Dr. Marshall Goldsmith is a world authority in helping successful leaders get even better – by achieving positive, lasting change in behaviour: for themselves, their people and their teams.  In November 2009 Dr. Goldsmith was recognized as one of the fifteen most influential business thinkers in the world in the bi-annual study sponsored by The (London) Times and Forbes. The American Management Association named Marshall as one of 50 great thinkers and leaders who have influenced the field of management over the past 80 years. He is one of only two educators who have won the Institute of Management Studies Lifetime Achievement Award.  Dr. Goldsmith’s Ph.D. is from UCLA where he has been named one of the 75 great alumni of the last 75 years. He teaches executive education at Dartmouth’s Tuck School and frequently speaks at leading business schools. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources (America’s top HR honour) and his work has been recognized by almost every professional organization in his field.  Mr.Marshall is one of a select few advisors who have been asked to work with over 120 major CEOs and their management teams. He served on the Board of the Peter Drucker Foundation for ten years. He has been a volunteer teacher for US Army Generals, Navy Admirals, Girl Scout executives, International and American Red Cross leaders – where he was a National Volunteer of the Year.
  3. 3. Prelude  Marshall Goldsmith writes here that a leader’s greatest challenge can be knowing when it’s time to step aside. And just as challenging is the often overlooked, frequently thorny question of how you step aside.  The goal would be, during the transition, for the departing leader to maintain his dignity (many don’t), enjoy his final year or so in the office, and put his successor in a position where he or she will have a great chance of winning.  This book offers candid advice on succession from the outgoing executive's perspective; however Goldsmith doesn't focus on the strategic or technical issues.  This book is also not intended to be a human resources manual, so it doesn't address succession planning and areas such as compensation, stock options, and other HR concerns.  What this book does focus on are the behavioral concerns related to succession. This book was written to help CEOs and any high-level professionals  Prepare for transition,  Choose a successor,  Coach their successor, and  Pass the baton.  Goldsmith stresses that too often succession is presented "as a dry, "check the boxes" process during which seemingly robotic executives are only concerned with buzzwords like strategic fit, core competencies, and long-term shareholder value."  In actual practice, though, he writes that the process of getting ready for succession is often influenced by emotions as much as it is influenced by logic.
  4. 4. 1. Preparing Yourself
  5. 5.  Slowing down and letting go is typically very difficult. If you and the company are doing well, why would you want to quit now? And if things aren't going so well, you won't want to give up. Determining whether or not you are really ready for succession is a critical first step in the process.  Make an honest assessment of what you will be letting go of. You will need to cope with, among other things, a change in compensation, status, power and authority, your relationships, and your level of contribution.  Knowing that you will become a "lame duck" and a "former CEO" is hard to accept. But it is a reality. Making peace with this and learning how to deal with it will make things a lot easier for everyone. Slowing down & Letting go & moving on
  6. 6. Slowing down & Letting go & moving on  Don't worry about "finishing on a great note." Instead, make those tough, unpopular decisions that are good for the company. Focus on putting your successor in a position to succeed.  It will be critical to properly transition from you running the company at full speed, to choosing and developing a successor, to creating the rest of your life.  Goldsmith writes that from his learnings, the three most important variables that executives identify in order to have a "great rest of life" are:  Contribution,  Meaning, and  Happiness.  (Note that money, health and relationships are not listed as key factors - because CEOs report that they are typically already doing fine in these areas.)
  7. 7. Effectively letting go –Figure 1.1  In the middle of the transition process, you should begin to slow down. While you are still working on leading the company, you are deeply involved in developing your successor, and you begin focusing on creating the rest of your life.  At the end of the process, you will need to stop leading the company, be available (only if asked) to work on developing your successor, and primarily focus on creating the rest of your life.  While figure 1-1 illustrates a process that theoretically could happen, figure 1-2 illustrates a process that actually does happen, and far too often. In figure 1-2 the leader becomes focused on leading the company until the bitter end, spends little time in developing his successor, and puts almost no effort into creating the rest of his life
  8. 8. Trouble letting go-Figure 1.2 If you want to do a great job in creating a great transition, look more like the leader in figure 1-1—less like the leader in figure 1-2.
  9. 9. 2. Choosing Your Successor
  10. 10. Choosing your Successor  The development of a great successor is one of the most important accomplishments that a CEO can achieve. (What message is sent to your leaders when you, as a CEO, cannot develop your own successor?)  But should you develop an internal or an external successor? Goldsmith lists some pros and cons for both but concludes that "external CEOs come with extremely high risk and that you should develop an internal resource if at all possible." A cost-benefit analysis of the options is always a good idea.  You as CEO (and as a coach of your potential successor) need to make certain that you really want this person to be the next CEO. A lot of time, money and energy can be wasted if this is not the case
  11. 11.  Before the succession decision is made, it is critical that your potential successor establish positive relationships with all key stakeholders such as board members, her leadership peer group, direct reports, and important customers and suppliers. Utilize a critical stakeholder assessment in this determination.  Everyone has areas of improvement need, and successor CEOs are no different. And as with all people, for a potential successor to achieve positive change, the deep motivation for this change will have to come from inside him. And his motivations must be for the right reasons.  An outside coach or CEO can help the successor achieve authentic change, but they cannot make the successor achieve authentic change. As Arnold Schwarzenegger noted, "Nobody ever got muscles by watching me lift weights." Choosing your Successor
  12. 12. 3. Coaching Your Successor
  13. 13.  The selection of an executive coach should be driven by the needs of the company and those of the potential successor. Hire a coach who specializes in those areas.  At the CEO level, most requests for coaching are behavioral - not technical, functional, or strategic.  Some advantages of utilizing an outside coach include confidentiality in collecting data, their credibility and capability, and a lack of time by the CEO to commit to the coaching process.  Also, taking the lead in coaching the potential successor is often not the best use of the CEO's time or talents.  As a leader, your successor needs to clearly understand - before taking the job - how much CEO behavior matters to the people whom they will be leading. If any one wants to be a great leader, they have to "make peace" with watching what they say and observing how their...for the rest of her career.  There is no "off" switch when they are around the people whom they will be leading. Choosing your Successor
  14. 14.  Involve key stakeholders in the development of your successor because he will need their support, they provide different perspectives, he will learn from them, and it increases the stakeholders' buy-in regarding the process and the candidate(s).  The more successful we become, the more we fall into the superstition trap: "I behave this way. I am a successful CEO. Therefore, I must be a successful CEO because I behave this way." Don't fall into this trap. Your successor CEO will NOT need to think, behave, and be like you in order to be successful.  Successful human beings tend to overweight our own strengths and underweight our own weaknesses when evaluating others.  Many of us have a natural tendency to forgive even large errors that resemble our weaknesses and to punish even small flaws that occur in our area of strength.  Be conscious of this when evaluating others. Choosing your Successor
  15. 15.  Thank them for participating in the coaching process. Take the time to acknowledge the value of their time. Express gratitude for their input.  Review strengths. Personally commit to continued effort in these areas of strength, and express gratitude for the positive recognition.  Openly discuss desired areas for development. Sincerely apologize for any mistakes that may have damaged the relationship in the past, and commit to improve.  Solicit ideas for the future. Ask for specific suggestions that can help ensure her improvement in targeted areas for change as well as general suggestions that can help in her journey to becoming a great CEO.  Make realistic commitments. Avoid overpromising. Commit to listen to all ideas, consider every suggestion, and make a good faith effort to do the best she can to improve.  Ask for their continued support. Let them know that she plans to follow up and get ongoing ideas for suggestions. Communicate that positive, lasting change is a process—not a program. Involve Key Stakeholders
  16. 16. 4. Passing the Baton
  17. 17.  As CEO, be crystal clear when you are leaving and who your successor will be. Also, how to announce this and how to inform the successor CEO and key stakeholders is very important.  As the CEO, you need to avoid the "buyer's remorse" that is too common in the transition process. Once the final commitment is made, let it go.  Give the key stakeholders all the credit for the successor CEO's personal improvement. They (presumably) have been a critical part of the development and selection process and their efforts need to be recognized.  Show some class on the way out. Do whatever you can to make your successor a winner. Get over your own ego. Passing the Baton
  18. 18. Happy Reading Your comments to ramaddster@gmail.com