Four Succession Case Studies for Conversation at Your Next Board Meeting

by Deedee Myers

Use the following case studies in your next leadership meeting. What would you do in each case? What assumptions does your organization have about succession planning? What are your blind spots, philosophies and practices that may no longer be relevant or go unchallenged? What examples do you have of succession planning and employee development that should have produced a different outcome?

Personal Irresponsibility

Your CEO, John, is six months away from retirement. An internal successor, Tom, has been identified and groomed for the CEO role in an open succession plan program. His experience is top notch; his expertise, strong and his leadership in the organization, exemplary.

The board, in updating due diligence, has discovered that some of Tom’s behaviors outside the organization are troublesome. Rumors have been confirmed about compulsive gambling, a pending divorce and foreclosed real estate. Rumors about depression and treatment by a therapist are not confirmed.

John has invested years in developing Tom and now questions how someone with his personal irresponsibility can be allowed to assume the top leadership position in the credit union. There is no one else groomed for this responsibility and the board is concerned about how effective an external search will be on short notice.

Lack of Trained Back-Up

Your credit union is in the midst of fulfilling on a major strategic initiative that it hopes will support a more competitive position in the market. After an extensive RFP process, a new core systems provider has been selected and the conversion starts in two weeks. The SVP of information technology gave notice yesterday that he is leaving. The VP of IT announced today that she accepted an SVP position down the street.

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