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5 ways to set up a successful succession plan

Article written by Peter De Lange (ActionCOACH Business Coach – Benoni)

There are thousands of business leaders in the working world today, each wanting desperately to create and build a lasting “legacy,” but very few are remembered after their last day on the job. This is most often a result of the failure to set up a viable succession plan.

As a leader, leaving a great legacy is arguably the most powerful thing you can do in your career, and life, because it enables you to have influence well into the future – even after you are out of the picture. It’s the key to optimising your impact on your organisation and its people.

Legacy building in a business context can take the form of working to ensure the organisation’s long-term viability and leave it more robust, more productive, and more valuable than it was before. It is not necessarily about the products and services you leave behind, but more about the people who will continue to carry on your vision after leaving the organisation. Staying focused on the future and the people who will carry your vision forward, you can begin to create a solid foundation for a lasting legacy.

Every business owner needs a well-structured, expertly formulated succession plan.

Here are five important elements to consider for setting up a succession plan

Communication

This is a crucial pillar of legacy leadership. To leave behind a team that will continue to foster your vision, and consistently communicate it. Reinforce the mission and vision of the organisation by sharing stories at weekly meetings, and set aside time to recognise someone who demonstrated a
specific value of the organisation. Encourage others to identify employees who demonstrate company values. Have a strong sense of self-awareness and consistently lead by example.

Self-improvement

This is a crucial pillar of legacy leadership. To leave behind a team that will continue to foster your vision, and consistently communicate it. Reinforce the mission and vision of the organisation by sharing stories at weekly meetings, and set aside time to recognise someone who demonstrated a specific value of the organisation. Encourage others to identify employees who demonstrate company values. Have a strong sense of self-awareness and consistently lead by example. 

Truly influential leaders ask for feedback regularly and act on it. To keep yourself focused on legacy leadership, ask these questions:

  1. Who among the leaders around you is focused on creating a lasting legacy?
  2. What do these leaders do that you’d like to emulate?
  3. Does your enterprise have a culture that will allow you to create a lasting legacy?
  4. Do the organisation’s leaders, managers, and supervisors deeply believe in your vision? What actions do they take to move the company toward that goal?
  5. Will you retain and advance the people who have bought into your vision?

Focus on the burdens rather than the benefits

When making decisions about the future, leaders may be allocating desirable benefits such as profit or natural resources or distributing burdens that they and others wish to avoid, such as debt or hazardous waste. It is strategic for organisations to intentionally connect decisions about benefits and burdens so that managers must make them simultaneously. The increased focus on ethical considerations that accompanies the allocation of responsibilities can help attenuate the short-sighted and self-interested behaviour that often guides the assignment of benefits.

Consider the responsibility that comes with your power

Most research on power suggests that the experience of management tends to make people more self-focused and self-interested. However, recent research on intergenerational decisions involving longer timeframes reveals that passion can lead decisionmakers to be more concerned with the interests of others in the future. When intergenerational choices are combined with an enhanced experience of power, people feel more social responsibility, and are more focused on their legacy than when their ability is not prominent. The result is that they are more generous to future generations, which naturally helps them build a positive legacy.

Death

Yes, we all die. One of the most effective things we can do to buffer our death anxiety is to attempt to transcend death by finding meaning in our lives. Research shows that reminding people of death motivates them to consider their legacy and causes them to act in ways that benefit future generations, thus improving their long-term decisions. People feel better in the face of death if they are a part of something that will live on after them, and having a positive impact on future generations can help fulfil that need.  

The epitome of power is to leave a great legacy that lives on after you are gone. Ultimately, your legacy is all you’ve got. Think about how you want to be remembered by other people.

A huge benefit of having an internationally-certified business coach is that they can assist you with your legacy planning. Reach out to your nearest business coach today.

ActionCOACH is a proud Partner of the NSBC