Leadership: Succession Leadership

Succession leadership is the ability to pass on your leadership responsibility to another capable of the task. To be able to spot potential leaders to take your place, as you step down, in a smooth hand over of responsibilities confident that they will do a good job.

Personally I think good character is a paramount attribute to look out for in a potential leader. To have a degree of humility and be teachable – which are things difficult to instill in people. They naturally need to possess these qualities, where other areas of leadership can be mostly taught or coached (please see previous blogs on this leadership series).

I have had failures and successes in this area. The failures I sometimes saw coming and yet ploughed on ahead regardless hoping for the best. One thing I see are successful handovers go ‘unnoticed’ and they remain under the radar. They go ahead smoothly, organisational activities continue on in a positive and progressive manner.

Examples of good succession leadership that come to mind are:

Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company was succeeded by his son Edsel Ford and has stayed in the family ever since. They still have majority voting rights and therefore leadership.

Moses handing over leadership to Joshua in the Bible. Joshua ‘shadowed’ Moses for many years, and later successfully conquered Canaan to establish Israel.

George Stevenson known as the ‘father of railways’ a civil & mechanical engineer invented railways. His son George Stevenson took on the mantle of invention and created the ‘Rocket’ locomotive taking rail travel another step forward with great success.

Examples of failed succession leadership are:

General Field Marshall Hindenburg president of Germany, through political manourvering against him handed over power to Adolf Hilter, allowing him to become Chancellor in the 1934.

Collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank in 2008 led by CEO Dick Fuld since 1994. A new company spin off from American Express. He is attributed by the press and others to the collapse of the company and sending the world’s financial system close to collapse. The CFO Erin Callan was also seen by some to be under qualified for her position within a major investment bank.

Lessons to be learned. It just goes to show how important it is to place the right people in leadership positions.

Hope you have a good month

All the best



“It is better to deserve honours and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them.” – Mark Twain

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters” – Albert Einstein

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