Succession Checklist


Often referred to as “The Final Test of Greatness,” a successful leadership transition requires vision, open communication, clearly defined expectations, discipline, and patience.  The process should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint… and as such it requires planning and a long-term perspective.


A good starting point for any succession includes the following “Leadership Transition Checklist.”


  1. Values:  Have you clearly defined your organization’s values?  Are these values felt throughout the organization – and do they help define how your company does business?


  1. Vision:  Is there a clearly defined vision for the future?  Has the vision been communicated to the employees and is it easy to understand?


  1. Strategic Plan:  Is there a plan for achieving this Vision?  Is there buy-in throughout the organization?


  1. Resource Assessment:  What are the resources embodied in the current generation of leaders? (Skills, knowledge base, relationships, etc)    Have the resources required for effective company-wide leadership been identified and is there a process for transferring them to the next generation of leaders?


  1. Potential Successors:  Have you identified High Potential employees as your possible successor(s)?  Are these High Potential employees aware that you consider them possible candidates for high-level leadership?


  1. Development Plans:  Have you identified the strengths and weaknesses of your potential successors?  Is there a plan in place to address their weakness and to continue building on their strengths?


  1. Career Path:   Is there a clear career path in place that will ensure the on-going leadership development of your potential successor(s)?  Does this path provide successors the opportunity to build the skills, knowledge, resources, etc. required for long-term leadership?


  1. Decision-Making Process:  Is there a Board of Directors (or other similar body) that can serve to evaluate the potential successors and help make the final decision about a successor?  Is the Board empowered to create real accountability for managing the leadership transition process?


  1. Governance Structures:  Have the owners defined the structures required to ensure a successful partnership?  ( Buy-Sell agreement, conflict of interest policy, fiduciary responsibilities, employment policy, family member involvement policy, etc.)


  1. CEO Transition:  Is the CEO ready to transition to a new place?  Is there a clearly defined set of roles and responsibilities into which the CEO can transition?  ( Founding Partners should view themselves as transitioning up, not out.)


  1. Financial Security:  Have the economic needs of the founding partners been openly discussed?  Is there a plan for addressing these needs?


  1. Estate Plans:  Have the partners planned for the efficient transfer of their assets to their chosen beneficiaries?  Are these plans consistent with the vision for the future of the business?


  1. Team:  Is there a team in place that will support the transition?  Is there a process to ensure the on-going development of this new management team?


  1. Timing and Communication:  Is there a defined time-line for the leadership transition?  Has this time-line, and its supporting implementation plan, been clearly explained to the rest of the organization?