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Succession Planning: Knowing When & How to Exit

Succession Planning - Knowing When & How to Exit 3The fact of the matter is that part of being a leader is knowing when and how to exit the organization. 

You’ve worked hard to build your business, but before you leave, the only responsible thing to do is confirm there’s a team in place to lead the company to continued success. 

Here’s how to plan a thoughtful exit and find ways to ensure that whoever follows is ready to take on the responsibilities that come with running an organization:

How To Plan For a Succession of Leadership

1. Acknowledge It’s Time

Giving up your leadership role is a humbling experience. It takes a lot of introspection to acknowledge it’s time to move on. Indicators for this can be any number of factors ranging from quarterly reports to employee sentiment to more personal or health-related reasons. The fact of the matter is that every leader must eventually make way for the next. After all, it’s how you came to be where you are today. Without your predecessor stepping down, your life may be very different. 

Whatever the reason may be, the core principle is constant: it’s time for someone new to take the reigns of the organization. You should always have your company’s best interest in mind when deciding to hang up the boots and understand that even the greatest must at some point, call it a day. It benefits neither you nor your team if it’s time for you to go, but you ignore the signs. Instead, focus on being proactive and ending your legacy positively. 

Related article: How Listening to Employee Opinions Can Strengthen an Organization

2. Tie Up Loose Ends

Whether you’ve told your team that you’ll be leaving or not, your biggest priority needs to be setting up the company for future success. This starts and ends with your leadership ability. As the head of the organization, you’re well aware of your team’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as their capacity for extra work. The event of you leaving is going to mean a lot of extra planning and resources for the company until things settle down a bit. 

Don’t spread your team too thin. Now is not the time to be proposing new initiatives or making time-intensive commitments on behalf of your organization. On the contrary,  you should be using your last months in office to tie up as many loose ends as possible. In order to ensure a smooth transition, your focus needs to be on planning for the transition period that will inherently come in your absence. Make sure to have a thoughtful exit where your successor doesn’t immediately have to put out fires, but rather has the time and space to create his or her own strategic succession plan without undue urgency. They’re already going to be under enough pressure. 

3. Prepare The Next Generation

A sign of a great leader is his or her ability to prepare the next generation. Do your best to identify the most promising talent on your team. Every organization has up and comers who have proven their value to the company. Start looking for unique skills, personality traits, and any other markers which could flag them as potential successors. In your final initiative as the leader, groom the ones you believe in the most and prepare them as your successor. Once it’s time for you to step down, you’ll know that the company will be well taken care of.

This means taking the time to give them valuable mentoring opportunities. Include them in meetings that they may not usually be a part of. Introduce them to strategic partners and clients if they haven’t made their acquaintance already. Give them the chance to shadow you first hand and gain experience while you’re still around to answer some of their most pressing questions. None of us are 100% ready to be thrust into the limelight, but with strong succession planning, you can rest assured that you’ve done your best to prepare the organization’s next great leader. 

Related article: 3 Keys to an Effective CEO Succession Planning/Exit Strategy

Learn More About Dale Carnegie Succession Planning 

As a business leader, your ability to hand off your responsibilities to the next generation of leadership will leave a lasting mark on your organization. If you are interested in identifying and training the leaders of tomorrow and putting a thoughtful succession plan in place, Dale Carnegie can help. 

Contact us today to learn more.


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