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Succession – Plan to Return

Succession - Plan to Return


Refining processes and developing the next generation of leaders are fundamental to succession planning. I’ve worked with my clients on these key succession planning and talent development steps for years. However, during a coaching call with an executive this past week, I learned a valuable insight into HOW I need to guide my succession planning clients going forward. The leaders need to plan for succession as if THEY were going to return to the company.


The leaders need to plan for succession as if THEY were going to return to the company.

The executive that shared this insight was experiencing first-hand the difference in succession planning and team development by two of his managers: “Rico”, the first manager, had left with limited notice and no intention of returning, while “Cara”, the second manager had given six month’s notice and had left the week before for 3 months’ maternity leave. Needless to say, even though both managers were supposed to have been developing their teams for anticipated and unanticipated team member changes for the past two years, the quality of their efforts is profound. Cara, who is planning to return to her role, prepared her team. Rico, who has no intention of returning, did not.

Cara developed her team to ensure they could continue to move things forward while she was away and that they could do so in a way that ensures she’s not stepping into a total mess when she returns. Cara helped her team by updating SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), cleaning filing systems and project files, identifying team talent gaps and ensuring her team was cross-trained so they could better support one another and the director while she’s away.

Rico also did clean project files to remove personal or extraneous information, and he did some leadership and talent development work with his team, but not to a level that would enable his team or his successor to keep things moving forward. Rico had rationalized his approach to leadership and team development under the guise of wanting to allow his successor to “make the role and the team their own”. That sounds thoughtful and respectful of his successor, but it’s a cop-out. Leaving behind a strong team and well-organized department does not prohibit your successor from making the team their own, it enables them to make it their own quicker.

Cara planned for her departure to be a supportive, positive, and productive experience for her team.
Rico planned for his departure to be easy on himself.

As you consider your succession planning efforts, ask yourself: Am I expecting someone else to ‘clean up’ my team and this position after I’m gone, or am I developing this team and role into something I can be proud of after I’m gone?

Planning for someone else to clean up after you isn’t Succession Planning.



Copyright MMXXII – Liz Weber, CMC, CSP – Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890

Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!



Liz Weber CMCLiz Weber, CMC CSP

Liz Weber coaches, consults, and trains leadership teams. She specializes in strategic and succession planning, and leadership development.

Liz is one of fewer than 100 people in the U.S. to hold both the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designations.

Contact Liz’s office at +1.717.597.8890 for more info on how Liz can help you, or click here to have Liz’s office contact you.


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2 thoughts on “Succession – Plan to Return”

  1. additionally, individual development plans can help direct where people are going as well as serve as motivators.

    1. They can but I also suggest using your values statement as your “House Rules”. This will align everyone’s performance to a common goal.

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Posted by Liz Weber CMC on April 19, 2022 in Succession Planning and tagged , , , ,